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Honoring All Men

(James 2:1-17)

Lesson 11 -- third quarter 2008
August 10, 2008

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2008

Would you follow Jesus with him?

First Jesus calls four hard-working fellows who gainfully pursued an honorable occupation. But then He up and calls one of those tax collector "things" (Mark 2:14)!

Suppose you had been one of the fishermen. Would you have been aghast and insulted that Jesus would have called Matthew just as readily as He called you? I wonder how many of us would have resisted the preposterous notion that we follow Jesus in the company of a publican.

Aren't we so strange, vain, and arrogant? I mean, just how good do we think we are, anyway?! Think about it...Are we such better company for the glorious, sinless One?

Who is welcome in your congregation?

If you have ever been in a hospital, you know such places tend to maintain a fairly high and strict standard of neatness, cleanliness, and classiness. But have you noticed the kinds of people they cater to? And, oh, the condition some of them arrive in! Dirty, smelly, sickening, and downright revolting. In such a neat, clean, classy place? Yuck!

Nobody thinks that way, do they? No! Those neat, clean, classy places are meant to serve the dirty, smelly, sickening, and revolting.

Sure, the standards of the hospital are maintained. And almost everything possible is done to bring the "clients" up to that standard. But those facts don't undo the reality that hospitals are meant for the sick and injured. Such folks are welcomed in hospitals.

"And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Mark 2:16,17).

Oh, you say today's lesson isn't about who is welcome? OK. Then how are they welcomed? More importantly, how do you receive them? And when you and That Certain Somebody are ("unfortunately") in the same congregation, how do you follow Jesus with him?

What I need

I know what I need. I don't have a written list, but I certainly do have a mental list. Though I positively don't dwell on what I lack, I am definitely aware of it! When I have the money to spare, I am quite inclined to scratch a thing or two off my list. Are you at least somewhat the same way? Then we need to apply some verses to our perspective.

"If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?" (James 2:15,16).

"But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?" (1 John 3:17).

Do I know what my brother or neighbor needs? Somehow, awareness in this area seems less important. That should not be since we are members one of another! God gives us the resources we have, not just to take care of ourselves, but to contribute to the well-being of others.

Another way in which I am too self-centered is that of not giving others the praise and encouragement they deserve or need. Here again, I know what I need and what I thrive on. But what about those around me?! I have a renewed determination to open my eyes to ways in which I can encourage and praise others.

Now I have a question that puts you on the opposite end of things. How do you respond (in your head) when someone provides for your material or emotional needs? "I have it coming!" "He has so much and I have so little." "It's about time someone helps me!" "That's all?!" I must confess that I have responded that way at times. The dimensions of human ungratefulness leave the imagination swaying drunkenly. In this area I covet a reaction like Ruth's: "Why have I found grace in thine eyes?" (Ruth 2:10).

How does this affect my speaking and my doing?

"So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty" (James 2:12).

And how does it affect my thinking?

[text of James 2:12]

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