Faith That Works - Confronting Our Secret Prejudices

Learning to recognize and overcome our secret prejudices.

Chuck Martin
Jan 26, 2020    35m
In this sermon Pastor Chuck Martin challenges us to examine ourselves so that we can recognize and overcome our secret prejudices. He encourages to follow God's lead by learning to look past a person's external attributes and instead learn to look at their hearts. Video recorded at Frisco, Texas.

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Alright today. We're continuing our message Series in the book of James. James it is titled for the author James the brother of Jesus. One of the things that I just get a kick of out of is, could you imagine having Jesus as your brother? If you know the history, James became a devoted follower of Jesus following the resurrection. Overshadowed, he had his doubts as you might imagine prior to that, but once he saw Christ crucified and risen, he was convinced. A matter of fact, he went to his death in 62 A.D., proclaiming the gospel. He was a leader in a church in Jerusalem. He was an early church leader and he writes these words to the early church; and what he addresses is a threat, really towards the unity of the church, something that threatened to split the church apart.
Matter of fact, if you're familiar with the book of Acts, in Acts chapter 6, we read of the very first controversy or conflict within the church, and it had to do with showing preference towards certain people based on their ethnic background, preferences, within the body of Christ. And so, James addresses that in Chapter 2. Let me just remind you that, as people we tend to evaluate each other, oftentimes, on very external things. I mean, it's a part of almost human nature, right? We show preferences in our culture certainly, you know, values the beautiful, the successful, our culture is about selling you on an image, right? I mean, we do live in the North Dallas area. You are aware of this? Are you not?
And so, it is easy for us within the church to find ourselves operating and treating people on a worldly standard rather than a Godly one. And so that was what was threatening the church in his day. I remind you of what scripture says of how God views us. First Samuel chapter 16: 7. I love the way the Message puts this. “As Samuel the prophet is going to select the next king, God instruction. Verse 7, he says, but God told Samuel, “looks aren’t everything.” I love the way it's put. “But looks aren't everything.” Some of us go, that's a good thing, right? It says, “Don't be impressed by his looks and stature for I've already eliminated him.” In other words, the most prominent the one that they all had that would be the one. No, he's saying no God God's not chosen that one to be the leader and he goes on to say “God judges persons differently than humans. Men and women look at the face or the outward appearance, God looks at the heart.”
Today is we address this issue, the issue of partiality. I want to share with you one of the things that I so appreciate about our fellowship, and I hear this from people all the time. I mean not all the time, but frequently. That one of the things they find refreshing about our church, is a lack of an ostentatious kind of approach. We tend to be very down-to-earth people.
Although you may as we go through this message go. Well, we go, “you know, that doesn't really apply to us.” We're going to say, “Not so fast.” We also need to make sure that we guard the unity of the fellowship and we don't reflect the culture in that regard.
With that as a background let's jump into James chapter 2, will begin reading in verse 1. I'll comment as we go through.
Verse 1 he says my brothers and sisters. I love that he begins by reminding them that regardless of who they are, regardless of their background, regardless of their status, regardless of their income, regardless of their success, or lack thereof, notice what he's saying “My brothers and sisters in Christ.” We're brothers and sisters; we’re family.”

Then he says, “Believers in our glorious, our glorious, in other words, we need not look to culture for our values. We need to get our values from God. Our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. He's setting us up. He says we must not show favoritism. Interesting, in the original Greek, that word favoritism, literally means to lift once countenance. In other words. That is to wow. That's like, whoa, look, pay special attention to. Its opposite is to look down on, right?

Its opposite is to devalue. This is the value certain people on externals or based on worldly standards. Might I dare say, what they might do for us; how they might benefit us.

And so, he says we must not in the church show favoritism. Look at verse 2, he gives an example and as I describe this example, you'll go, “man that wouldn't happen here.” And no, I don't think it would.

But look at what he says, he says suppose a man comes into your meeting, into your church service, wearing a gold ring in fine clothes. That was the status, a symbol of status and wealth in that day. Matter of fact, in the Greco-Roman world, if you wore a certain rings that was a sign that you are of a certain status, for example, the equestrian status they had certain kind of signs of that like, oh he or she must belong to this group this subset so to speak so this person is wealthy successful in the sense of high culture. Wearing a gold ring in fine clothes notice the contrast with another individual and a poor man in filthy clothes, filthy old clothes come also comes in if you show special attention or favoritism preferential treatment to the man wearing fine clothes and say here here's a good seat for you. But say the poor man you stand there sit on the floor by my feet have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Notice he's saying, “This is, not just a problem. It's a sin.”

Now as I read that I would go that would, we would not do that?

Yet the reality is that we all consciously and sometimes subconsciously make certain discriminating opinions of people oftentimes on externals, right? on Impressions. Reminder of a humorous true story my mom told me. My mom was the American Cancer director, Society director for Central Alabama. And so, she raised my money and support of cancer research.

So a lot of our fundraising she worked with various philanthropic groups, and folks who could contribute and had a heart to do that. One of their larger sponsors was a guy who owned a number of McDonald's in the Montgomery and Central Alabama areas, very successful business guy.
One thing about Leon, that was his name, is that he liked to go hang out at his ranch when he wasn't doing business stuff and wearing a suit and tie and so what he did was he oftentimes were overalls, these really old ratty-like work clothes. So one day he's in town. He says, you know, I think I'm going to go buy a new Cadillac.

And so he's dressed in overalls. He pulls up to the Cadillac dealership and he says yeah like to see your latest Cadillac. I think I'm interested in buying a Cadillac today. Will the salesman looked him over?

And said, well sir, you might want to look at are used vehicles and he's like no I want I like to test drive the county. So, he's just skirting. He says no, I think what where you need to go is down the street to our use choices. That's probably more in your budget. He had no idea who he's talking to.

So Leon left went down the street to the Lincoln dealership. true story. Wrote check, paid cash related the newest Lincoln drove out and he said here's what I want you to do. I'm gonna buy a Lincoln today, but in about 5 minutes, I want you to call the Cadillac dealership, okay?

and he said and as you do that, I'm going to drive by in my brand new Lincoln and I'm going to hit the horn and just wave and drive on and here's what I want you to do, you know, the guy who just talked his horn and passed by driving in the new Lincoln was in your place earlier, and he wanted a Cadillac but

You sent him to the used-car selection.

You had no idea. He was one of the wealthiest men in Montgomery, Alabama.

I love that story because it's true and it's also humorous that, oftentimes, you don't know who you're dealing with.

And what James is saying is let's don't judge each other on externals. One thing that I love about our church.

And one of the reasons why we have a more casual approach, I guess for comfortable approach and the sense of dress and what we wear to church is because we do not want to create an environment where people would come and go I don't I don't fit in there. I'm not nice. I'm not dressed nice enough to attend there. And so just so you'll know if you ever wonder well is that just personal preference? There's an intentionality to that as well
Well notice when he goes on to say not only is he said don't do that by all means don't be worldly and how we view each other and that's what is a natural response for most many of us. Most of us. I think to some degree but notice what he says God is going he's going to print a picture of paint a picture of who God values who God thinks up and it's not necessarily who you and I would look at verse 5. He said listen, my dear brothers and sisters has God not chosen. I'll love that word chosen, chosen those who were poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the Kingdom. He promised for those who love him in other words. Hey, do you realize the person that you're devaluing, God might be doing the very opposite but valuing highly? we'll get to why in just a moment.

And notice what he says here. I love this.

He says so “God has not chosen the poor in the eyes of the world be rich in faith and inherit the kingdom he promised for those who love him’ and then notice what he goes on to say verse 6 he says “but you have dishonored or devalued the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you, and in other words, he’s reminding them that culture are they not the ones taken advantage of you? and that was, that was true in that day. They had the power and the leverage. It's also true in our day, to a degree.
“Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court, suing you? verse 7, “Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong, in other words the name of Jesus.
and then he gives the solution verse 8,
“But if you really keep the royal law found in scripture (that's from Leviticus 19), ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ then you're doing right. But if you show favoritism (other words, judge on externals) you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he said, “You shall not commit adultery, also says, “you shall not murder. If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you're a lawbreaker.”

What he is saying, is you need to understand this is in the category of sin. It may not be viewed as a major sin, but God views it as sin. Verse 12, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

Here's what I want to do. I want to take just a few moments. I want to make some observations about what this passage says. Some of them are pretty obvious, and then I want to ask a question, and give an application.

Okay, three observations from this text. And we begin, first one is, in our culture like that of James, we give special attention to the wealthy. God does not. in other words, God does not, is not impressed with your bank account. Matter of fact with that what God is looking for his stewardship, whether you have a little or whether you have a lot. God is looking for how you handle that. God is looking at the heart, okay.

But you do understand we live in a culture where money speaks where power attention, their perks, privileges that come with that and what he's saying is the church ought not to reflect the culture like that. that that ought not to be the determining value within the church and I'm glad to say it's not.

But sometimes it works its way in.

I remember pastoring a church, a number of years ago.

Where we were making some changes to reach more people.

And in the process, we upset some people in the church. I know that's a shock.

And I remember having breakfast with several gentlemen, who were involved in our church, and they said, “Well, you need to understand something Pastor. Here's how it works in our church. We see ourselves as the board of directors because we are the major shareholders of the church.”
And I was like shareholders of the church that's ridiculous.
And they said, “Well, you just need to know we give more, have given more than a lot of people in this church. And so, we expect certain things because we give more.”
I mean they they're telling me this. And I'm like, “I don't know what people give in our church, but that's, no! That's not how we operate.”
And they're saying, “Well we expect you to run all the things by us for our approval before you go about making any changes” and I'm like, “are you an elder? Are you a leader? Are you authorized by our, you a spiritual leader within the church?” and they were.
I said, “No. I'm not going to do that.”

What I'm saying is, this stuff can happen in the church.

You know, we just live in a culture where there's Gold Club Status where there's right. I mean and that's not all, that's not all evil, that's not all wrong in the sense. take for example. Yeah, those of you know, I had the privilege of teaching from time to time and other places, training pastors and I love doing that love, love, love doing that. Right? and I love just being in different cultures and understanding and trying to encourage them in the Lord and learn from them.

And as you know or many of you know, we went to Asia last year and I trained some church leaders over there. So we flew and when we fly on Ministry type things, we fly economy or coach and I mean, it's usually the least, you know, the least expensive way you can get there, right? Great! Happy to do that.

Well, we were over there. We were flying from one city to another and we got bumped to First Class. I don't know how many you've ever flown first class in the Asian Airline. Okay. I'm just telling you it's a wonderful experience.

Again, not anyway. It was a wonderful experience but there was a world of difference between our flight over there and I fly within country because when we got in country and I've not done any fun you had like these giant like bucket seat like things fully recline. I mean you could turn into a bed, you know, and I'm sitting there right after takeoff, you know.

This is stewardess comes over and she goes, “Would you like some slippers?” and I’m like, slips my shoes off. she put slippers on. “Would you like a warm towelette for your face?” You know this like a warm eucalyptus towel and we’re like, I'm like going, I'm liking this! I am enjoying this little perk and you know, that's fine. That's fine. Just be careful that you don't attach a sense of value to that. Whereby you judge those that are not able right.

And so that's what he's getting at. But the reality is in our culture. We tend to Value certain people above others and he's saying that ought not need to be the case in the church. That's why he reminds us that we are brothers and sisters that in Christ there is level ground at the foot of the cross. We are equal image bearers of God. We are loved by God equally that we are all sinners in need of Grace and a savior.

And our income and our success in this world standards has nothing to do with that.

Second thing he points out. It's interestingly enough, oftentimes, God values those that we tend to devalue and he's going to say God considers those that are faithful despite difficult circumstances. He calls them rich in faith. He talks about the poor. Look at verse 5. He said listen, my brothers and sisters has God not chosen those who were poor in the eyes of the world. Okay to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom of those who He promised to those who love him. Now, he's not saying all poor people are Godly. He's not saying that, but here's what he's saying. He's saying that the person who loves God, despite a difficult life, has something to say to the person who loves God, having experienced an easier life.

And what he is saying that oftentimes the person that we might tend to look down on, is the very person who in their faithfulness, is the person we should from God's perspective, He values. Remember Jesus in his day, went to the temple one day, and in that day, when you entered the temple, what would happen is you would contribute, make your contributions on the way in. Was kind of interesting. They had these large containers and that day contributions rather than being paper were primarily through coinage, right?

Coins in Jesus day and I've seen replicas of those they vary in size. Obviously the least expensive were the little tiny Widow's Mite in a Widow's Mite and little tiny thing. My wife has won a little necklace with little tiny thing.

And the larger denominations are a bigger and so you could in a sense know who contributed what based on the sound it made when they made their contribution on their way to go into church. I'm glad we don't do that. I’m just going to say, right now. I'm glad we don't do that.

There were those standing nearby going. Wow. That was a nice... Whoa. He's giving a lot. she's giving a lot. and then there was a widow that worked her way in, and she tossed any was like ding.

Who is the one that Jesus said?

Hey time out.

Who's given the most from God's perspective?

The one who gave out of their poverty. He said she has given the most because she gave out of poverty. That's what Jesus is saying. Jesus is saying is God looks at our heart. Where is your heart toward God and the reality is, as we tend to move up the economic ladder, we tend to become less generous. Not more. I know there are exceptions to that. No doubt, there are exceptions in this church to that. But the reality is, if you look at that statistically based on people who study that the, more we have, the more we tend to protect and keep. The less we tend to trust God.

And so Jesus is simply saying be careful who you judge because the very one that you are judging on while loser is the very one that God says winner in my eyes.

1st Timothy Chapter 6 reminds us that with wealth comes temptation.

First Timothy 6:9 he says, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap.” And he said, “that can lead to ruin.” In other words, there is that pull toward those things. Not that they're evil, but the love of money, he goes on to say in verse 10, is the root of all kinds of evil. Okay? So we just need to remember that and so that we don't operate like the world. We operate like the church.

Third thing that I'll point out to by way of observation, is in the church would call the value others regardless of race, gender, background, wealth, or social standing.

I mean, I've already stated that, but that's exactly what it says. Verse 4 says, “Have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? And I know some of you go, “Well Pastor Chuck, you know that description, that nobody's going to tell someone who doesn't have as much go sit over here at my feet. That's not going to happen here. Does that really apply to us?”

Not so fast? Kemosabe? Not quite so fast.

Matter of fact we all, I think if we're honest with ourselves, would say we have certain attitudes, prejudices, or preferences towards certain people.

I made a list, and I'm not going to tell you which ones that apply to me, but there's some I'm convicted of as well. Okay?

So, here's what I want you to think before you say, “you know, that's great. That's helpful. Interesting passage. Doesn't really apply to us. Okay, yours might look a little different.

It is true. Some of you may resent those who have more than you. You may have an attitude towards someone based on what they drive or where they live. Can go both ways.

Some of you judge or resent people who are overweight. Matter of fact you think all overweight people are lazy. You have a negative view toward those who struggle with weight because you don't.

Some of you it's a racial issue. Somebody may have preferences towards certain racial groups. Some of you don't like black people or middle eastern people. Oriental people. Fill in the blank. There is racial prejudice in our day.

Some of this is a political issue. I'll get real personal here for a moment.

Some of you don't like any Democrat. Some of you don’t like Republican. Some of you don’t like independent. Some you think, “How could they possibly think like that?”

We won't go there.

Some of you don't like people from a certain part of the country. You have a preference toward people of a certain region. You hear a certain accent; you have a negative image toward that. “Well, all Northerners are rude,” right? or perhaps for you, it's Southerners. So, all southerns, well, they're slow. They talk so slow. They must have lower IQ. Marry their cousins, you know, I mean.

Some of you don't like athletes. You look at someone who spends a great deal of time and they're obviously in really good shape and you think, Vein.

Some of you don't you make judges of people based on what they wear like, oh my goodness that went out of fashion 20 years ago.

Some of you judge people based on those things like I well I wouldn't wear that. and you say that because you can't wear that.

Getting quiet in here. Some of you don't like artistic types. You think if a person is Artistic, they're probably gay, okay.

Some of you don't like smokers. You think we'll buy now don't they know what the Surgeon General said? I mean for crying out loud, right?

Some of you don't like anyone who has a tattoo right or certain kind of hairstyle right? You make judgments you...It's so easy to do.

Sorry judge. People have a glass of beer or glass of wine with your meal. drinker

some of you have an attitude toward stay-at-home moms. your think. Well, of course she stays at home with what else could she do right. some of you have an attitude towards working moms. Like what does she loved her kids some even attitude to those who put their kids in public school. Some of you have an attitude are those elitists who put their kids in private school. Some of you have an attitude toward homeschoolers. I mean why in the world? right?

Some of you an attitude toward people who have a lot of kids. don't they know what how not to do that?

And so are you have a lot of kids look at those don't have a couple of kids and you go. Why do they limit God? I mean, you know, how selfish are they?

Here's what I'm saying is it is so easy for us. You have your category you have your issue you have those things in your heart which can tend to value or devalue, and God calls that attitude sin.

And that is why in the church were instructed that we are to have an environment. Whereby we are different that people come into the body of Christ and study God's word together and encourage one another and seek to do life together. That would not otherwise rub shoulders.

I mean when I was on staff at Second Baptist Houston. Second Baptist is located in a very affluent area called The Villages, off Voss and Woodway in Houston. And one of the jobs I had was to develop a program to help new members feel at home, and have people that kind of sponsor them, and walk with them, connect them. And so, I thought well a great group to start with would be deacons. And so, I got a list of deacons and I didn't know who was who. I was new to the church, new on staff. I'd met a lot of them. I didn't know what they did, didn't know where they lived, didn’t know it. I mean, I'm the new guy.
so, I call this guy, I just knew as David. “Hey David, I'm working on this project and somebody told me you would be a great person to help with this.” He said, “I would love to.”
And I said, “That's awesome.” And I said, “Can we get together and visit?” He said, “Yeah.” And he said, “My office is downtown. I tell you what, I'll just send the driver for you.”

That should have been a clue.

Because I had no idea that I was dealing with the president of an oil company.

and then when I got there. I'm there like oh and then I moved here. and I moved there. and then I was here. and then I'm like, um, am I dressed right? I mean

And then there's Dave.

And great to see Chuck. what you thinking?

There he is.

A few weeks later started this new class started this new group. There he is sitting down with folks in our church, “Welcome. I want to get to know you. How can we help you take the next step with God?”

I thought only the church.

Only the church only the church would people rub shoulders together in that way and do life together. That would otherwise not live at all in the same neighborhood or Geographic status.

and so the questions we need to ask today is simply this.

Who are the people for you that you're quick to judge?

Who are the people that come when they come across your radar you have a tendency to write off or gravitate against or devalue or certainly not move to in a way that is loving?

Let me remind you of what scripture says.

Romans chapter 12 verse 16 notice what Paul writes he says live in harmony with one another do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Philippians chapter 2 puts it this way and beginning in verse 1 therefore. If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ any comfort from his love any common sharing in the spirit, if any tenderness and compassion then make my joy complete by being like-minded having the same love being one in spirit in one in my do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit rather in humility value others above yourselves.

That is the standard. That is what God calls us to. and I'm proud to say that as a church, we ascribe to that we aspire to that.

because you see the bottom line is this this is the solution, the solution when you and I bump into that person you think ye

Are you bombing to that person you go. I and your you're tempted to make a value judgment to make them less than.

In that very moment, here's how we should respond. We should respond by simply going back to what scripture calls the royal law.

You see it in verse 8 and 9.

Where James says if you really keep the royal law found in scripture love your neighbor as yourself, if you will do that you're doing right. But if you show favoritism you sin and you're convicted by the law as lawbreakers, some of us have written off private prejudice even public prejudice.

And you've Justified it and you've never called it what God calls it. God calls it a sin.

Some of you that are some of us that are here today we go. Well gosh, I did not know that that attitude is it sinful? Yes. It's sinful.

And so when you and I are tempted to judge or value someone else devalue someone.

Why don't you stop and say?

How could I love that person as I would want to be loved?

Once you stop and say, but by the grace of God, that could be me.

And why don't you choose instead to say God by your help and by the empowering your Holy Spirit, May I treat people as I am treated in Christ?

Because just here's how you're treated in Christ. None of us in here are worth what Jesus did on the cross for us.

You see every single one of us in here, although made in the image of God and loved by God are sinners in need of a savior and that being the case creates a level ground at the foot of the cross that we come not with our resume of achievement, but we come in humility, desperate for a savior and when you understand that you are accepted and loved by God not because of where you live what you've accomplished but because of Jesus then you're able to find brothers and sisters to whom you have perhaps from this world standpoint little in common, but in Christ you have much in common.

and therefore, the church is to be the city on a hill. It is to be the community where there is diversity, and unity. Where there is valuing within the body of Christ, not fracturing it.

Therefore, may we live to a higher standard. So that people will say of us there is something different about them.

because regardless Of where we come from, We are brothers and sisters in Jesus.

Recorded in Frisco, Texas.
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Frisco First Baptist Church
7901 Main Street
Frisco, Texas 75034