The Test of Partiality – The Importance of Partiality
Read: James 2:8-11
As a football coach, you have no doubt emphasized the importance of first steps to your players. Sometimes our players scoff at the importance of the first step, because they have not experienced the consequences of not taking the proper first step. The first step in football can never be minimized, because when it is – the consequences can lead to defeat. In an even greater way, when we minimize certain sins in our lives or in the lives of our players – the consequences can be devastating and destructive.
The past few weeks we have been examining James 2:1-13, where James gives 5 Reasons to Reject the Sin of Partiality. Today we will examine the 4th Reason to Reject the Sin of Partiality – “The Importance of Partiality” (vv. 8-11).
Many people in James’ day and in ours want to dismiss the sin of Partiality as Unimportant. In verses 8-11 James will show that far from being Unimportant, the Sin of Partiality is very Important.
Look with me first at verse 8 where James writes, “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.” The word “if” carries the idea of “since,” as in “since you really fulfill the royal law…” James first commends some of the believers and says they are “doing well” for not showing partiality as evidence by the fact that they are loving others as themselves.
Then beginning with verse 9 James moves from his commendation of some, to his condemnation of others as he stresses the Importance of the Sin of Partiality. Look with me at verse 9 – “But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” Here James uses the word “But” to show a contrast between those who do not show partiality and those who do. The word “if” here means “since.” There are some who are showing partiality, which James says is sin and they are convicted by the law as transgressors (law breakers). These people have broken the Law of Loving their neighbor, which basically sums up the heart of how Christians are to live in this world. The sin of Partiality is Important.
James then writes in verse 10, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” At this point some would say James is getting carried away. It is not like they had broken every law. No, they had not broken every law, but by breaking one, it’s as if the whole law had been broken. Imagine you are holding onto a chain, dangling from a cliff. If one link breaks, the chain is broken and you die. It does not matter which link, if any link breaks the chain is broken. The sin of Partiality is Important.
Some of the people to whom James wrote and some people today would say: “Come on. We’re talking about Partiality here. It’s not like I murdered someone or committed adultery.” God through James would say, “Yes, it is like you have committed murder and adultery.” Look what James writes in verse 11, “For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.” Here James equates the sin of partiality with that of murder and adultery. Partiality is a big deal, because it is a sin against God.
Coach, the sin of Partiality is Important. If we minimize this sin in our lives or in the lives of our players, the consequences can be devastating and destructive. When certain players are given special privileges and treated as more important than others (by coaches or other players) based on the way they look or on their ‘potential’ – this can destroy a team. It will undermine your ability to reach the heart of your athletes with the Gospel and hinder your call as a coach. Ask the Lord to show you if partiality has crept into your team, and then ask him to empower you to remove it so that He will be glorified and your team be blessed.