Forged In Faith: Part 3
You know when I found that song I was like you know that’s a brand new song that we haven’t sung before and I just thought it was pretty cool. So that I hope spoke to your heart today. I hope that that was something that touched your spirit because that’s what we should be seeking certainly to want God in this very beautiful way.
We are going to continue in our sermon series called Forged in Faith and you might be here because you’re seeking a new word from God. You might be in a valley, you might be ready to hear the word of God preached with grace and love. You might be ready to experience something you might not be experiencing in your church if you’re visiting with us we’re glad you’re here. If you’re a regular Overcomer we’re certainly glad you’re here. You know it’s
what we do here is we tell the truth the whole truth nothing but the truth. It sometimes steps on your toes
sometimes it bangs your toes but whatever it does it will be the truth and it will always be
biblical in grace and in love.
And so we’ve been really doubling down on the word of God and what that word looks like and what it should look in our life would look like in our lives. A lot of people have different interpretations of it but we want to present exactly what that looks like and so Forged in Faith is allowing God’s word to transform us. To really and truly make us something different and by making us something different we become acutely aware that God’s word is alive and that God’s word can change us and not change us for anything other than to be made useful for the kingdom of God.
Last week we looked at remember James and we’re all this is coming out of the book of James remember James is those little snippets last week James taught us how to truly relate to one another. He said you need to be slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to anger. You need to shut this, open this, and put away your anger. And because of that you’re going to be able to love people in a very powerful way you’re going to be able to relate to people in a very powerful way and I hope you practice that. I hope you really allowed yourself to let that take over in your life and
that means that we become doers of God’s word we just don’t hear it, we do it. We become a light in a broken world a light that really wants to experience God’s grace.
We become ambassadors for that and today we want to look at another snippet. Remember James is those proverbial snippets like out of the Old Testament Proverbs. Today though James out of chapter 2 looks at how the church really should behave and what the church should really look like. He points out a very specific problem with the church and it comes out of chapter 2 and we’re going to read verses 8 through 13
James 2:8-13 So hear these words if you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.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. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
So here you have James speaking to his church. Remember James is speaking to the diaspora of Jewish Christians that are not in Jerusalem. They’re scattered throughout and he is speaking to those people that are going to church household churches and worshiping Jesus but he does. Something very interesting – he warns of a very insidious problem within his church. And it’s within our church too, and that’s favoritism. The scripture says this in verses
James 2:9.But if you show favoritism you sin are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.
And so here we have James warning his church the minute you show favoritism to another person you’ve broken the law. All right and this is important because back then there was no sort of middle class economically. There was the very rich and the very poor and so what you have is the very rich and the very poor coming into the church together and sitting side by side and it was a temptation for the leaders of the church to pay more attention to those that have means that could make the church more financially rich than those that were poor. It even got a little more
horrific because when you had a slave owner somebody that could afford a slave and that slave coming into the church to worship as well the slave that you know you had two people that might not like each other in fact you had maybe a slave that would had become a leader within the church. You had a slave that maybe was serving communion and doing things in leadership positions. And how did that make the slave owner feel?
And so James is really trying to get his church to understand something that that although in the world there might be distinctions in the world there might be places that divide us and separate us and the church. There’s no place for that, there’s no place in the church for people to distinguish between rich and poor distinguish between color skin or or where you’re from or what your degrees are or any of those things. There are no distinctions with the church so much so that an enemy can sit next to an enemy and still be in peace.
I’ll never forget at the church in College Park that I served. You know we were growing and it was doing great things within the community and I was it was only my first year and I was out eating and there we had this man came up to me and he said you’re the new pastor. I saw your write-up in the paper. I said, “Thanks man.” I said, “Why don’t you sit down and we’ll eat together.” And so we started talking he’s like and some parishioners walked by and sort of looked at us and said hello and kept walking.
He says, “Well I own all these buildings here in the city.” I said, “That’s cool”. And he says, “But I’m not liked
by a lot of people.” I go “Why not?” He’s like, “Well I have, I’m opinionated about what they should do with the city.” And I was like, “Well you’re having an entitle you’re entitled to your opinion.” And he’s like, “Yeah but they just
don’t like me.” I said, “Why don’t you come to church and be my guest.” He goes, “No they won’t accept me in
in the church.”
And what I realized is that his opinions because they didn’t agree with some people’s opinions he got sort of alienated because of that and because of the alienation which is sort of human nature, if you’ve ever been there you become a little more angry, you become a little more resentful, and therefore you become a little more opinionated. And we’ve all been there and done that and so he wasn’t afraid to be hated by everybody because he thought his opinion was right. He sort of dug in even deeper but the saddest part was he didn’t want to come to church and I thought that was so brutal that people had alienated this man so much because of their opinions. And because of their divisions they’ve closed the door to him from experiencing God through a church.
And I and I believe within us all there’s this sort of as with James, there’s this inherent danger that when we when we start to look at people to treat people differently when we start to allow divisions to grow between us. We convince ourselves that we are justified in that. And the core of those divisions the core of that sort of separation between us all is one word. And that’s judgment.
Judgment is that one word that that creates those divisions that creates that separation between human beings and it’s judgment which is the most abominable sin in the church. I mean in fact when you when you begin to judge one another and point the finger at certain groups of people and for whatever reason you begin to alienate those people from understanding who Jesus is. But where it really gets nasty is this it’s where you begin to point out a person’s sin or a person’s fault when you yourself are guilty of that and you don’t point it out in somebody else’s you’re selective with who you pointed out in and therefore selective with who you push out and that’s called hypocrisy.
And when you put those two words together judgment and hypocrisy always create division. And I was watching this stuff with the Roe versus Wade stuff. And all of a sudden one political commentator said you know what now we’re
just a country, we’re just two different countries of red and blue. And I thought to myself well you know what you can you can look at it in two ways. Either you can create a division because you have two different you have two different opinions or they can be just differences. And I think that that a lot of times when we are interacting with each other, whether it be in the church, whether it be in politics, whether it be a business, whether whatever it is that we are now at a place where our differences have now become divisions. Where are different in the reason they go from differences to divisions because of judgment and hypocrisy because we are judging other human beings for something and therefore convicting them of something.
Tthat because they don’t happen to agree with us. And we do that in the church all the time when it was just a
difference we could sit down and say you know what we just have differences of opinion here. We’ve created divisions because of judgment and anger and hypocrisy. And the saddest part about it is the church now in the 21st century are synonymous with those two words: judgment and hypocrisy. From everybody that from everybody looking outside looking into the doors of the church and the walls of the church it’s judgment and hypocrisy and Jesus has something to say about say about that. He says that in
Matthew 12 23-24 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
It’s simple the Pharisees are hypocrites. Jesus says they pay attention to the little things and the little things for them are actually the big things. The little things are about giving money tithing you know tithing to so that they can continue to to to establish power within their church.
The more the people give money the richer the Pharisees become and Jesus says you’ve missed the more important
thing, you’ve missed the more important thing of justice mercy and faithfulness. And yet you will he says I love the the the analogy he says the metaphor you’ll strain out a gnat and remember gnats are really small things- you’ll strain out of that you’ll pick out the smallest things that are unimportant but you make them important and yet you will swallow a camel.
You will ignore the things of most importance you will you’re willing to die on the on a hill that has no importance whatsoever. All right you’ll be you’re willing to swallow that camel and that’s exactly us isn’t it in a lot of ways I mean you know looking at other people within our church judging other people very quickly and judging people yes for the same things that we are guilty of.
And James says this doesn’t do anything but create more division within the church.
he says this in a very interesting way let’s go back to the scripture we just read in James 2:9.
He says something important to us He says “but if you show favoritism you sin and are convicted by the law as
law breakers.” That means something to the Jews back then. Jewish Christians because they understand what law-breaking is. It’s a big deal to them because they understand that the Ten Commandments, the law was given to them and was asked to be followed by them. It was a list of do’s and don’ts and the Pharisees says if you follow them then you’ll be in a good relationship with God. If you don’t then you’ve broken that relationship with God and that’s the last thing they wanted to do was to break that relationship with God. And the Pharisees made it very difficult for them to follow. Made it oppressive even to follow, and soon they began to look at the laws and they said you know what instead of just following all them I’m going to pick the ones that are that are probably most egregious and I’m going to follow those because I wouldn’t want to dare break those at all and I think in a lot of ways you know if we can follow certain things that we know that God might still love us because certain sins are not as nearly as bad as other sins.
But James warns us of this because we do this in our own Christian walk for whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it for he who said you shall not commit adultery also said you shall not murder if you do not commit adultery but do commit murder you have become a law breaker. And James wants his people to understand this that you know if you’re showing favoritism that’s breaking the law that’s deciding that’s judging somebody based on whatever it is that happened to be wealth and money for them.
If you’re judging somebody and making a decision distinction between poor and rich then you’re breaking the law.
You can’t just write that off and say you know that’s okay that that doesn’t that’s not really that doesn’t really
matter no everything matters James says and so he’s trying to get his people to understand how to do the right thing. How do I become a person that relates to other people within my church, relates to other people in the world without judging them, without hypocrisy without the distinctions that I notice every single day? And James says there’s a way and he gives you the way in James 2:8. If you really keep the royal law found in scripture love your neighbor as yourself you’re doing right.
And this is the key for James to do the royal law. And Jesus says what that royal law is. I mean he doesn’t make that up, he gets it straight from the heart of Christ who meets a Pharisee a Sadducee and they ask him what is the greatest commandment of all and this is what Jesus says the most important one answer Jesus is this hear o Israel the lord our God the lord is one love the lord your God with all your heart with all your soul with all your mind with all your strength that’s the Shema to Deuteronomy.
You know exactly what that is and then he says this and they certainly know what that is back then the second
is this to love your neighbor as yourself there is no commandment greater than these so Jesus takes all of the law
all the laws that they follow and they he he reduces them to two to love the God with all your heart mind soul and strength and then to love your neighbor as yourself this is the royal law and the root of the royal law is what love
every single time it’s first love your God every single time we’re to love God first we love God by going to worship we
love God by giving our resources and our money we love God by serving and surrendering we love God by by loving
one another we do all these things to love God love God through the prayer in in in making him first in our lives
so many different ways we love God and we do this with all of our heart mind soul and strength but this is the key once you begin to love God first in that way once you allow him to live in your heart and transform your heart you begin to love and be pushed out into the world to love your neighbor as yourself and that’s the beauty of church.
That’s exactly what we’re supposed to be good at that’s the one thing we’re supposed to be good at to be loving people not judging people not separating people not dividing people understanding yes we have different opinions. Understanding that that will always be to the end of the time but that we’re not allowing those differences to become divisions we’re not allowing ourselves to stay on one side of the fence or one side of the line and lob those cut missiles those sort of emotional and spiritual scud missiles to the other side. We’re to come together as people because we love God first and God is calling us to love one another as he has already loved us.
James says it’s not easy but he says an amazing thing after this, he says there’s a way you can understand this and he says this in verse 12 of chapter 2
James 2:12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom,
And what James is saying is that, look, for everybody that believes in Jesus you’re now not bound by a law of external do’s and don’ts you’re not bound by that law anymore. In fact what you are bound by is the law
that is written on your heart. This is the law of freedom James is talking about. This is something that goes much deeper than something that’s written on tablets of stone. It says that Paul will say it in 2nd Corinthians 3:3 about his church he will say this you show that you are a letter from Christ the result of our ministry written not with ink but with the spirit of the living God not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
And what Paul has done with the church of Corinth he’s brought the word of God, Jesus they both believed in him they fell in love with the risen Lord. They started to do amazing things yes they had their issues yes they had their problems just read First Corinthians, it’s a hot mess, but man they really wanted to dig in and do the right thing. They wanted to love their God and therefore love one another and it took a while for that transformation to happen.
They understood that the Holy Spirit lived within them. That every time they met another human being that they were an open book to be read that they were somebody by their actions and words doers of the words not just tears but by both that someone was reading their heart and in every single time God wanted to present a letter to the people that you meet. Every single time that they can read something written upon your heart and it says love it says forgiveness it says mercy it says it says grace and to be shared just as it was shared with you on a cross in the name of Jesus.
Paul says remember that none are righteous no excuse me remember that this is written upon your heart that it lives within you that it’s accessible every single day. That if you’re struggling to love God, man the Holy Spirit’s in there speaking to you access that Holy Spirit if you’re struggling to love somebody a neighbor as yourself access that Holy Spirit the power of the Spirit of love lives within you every single time and rewrite that beautiful letter that Paul talks about.
But it goes even a little deeper than that if we’re to do that we’re to remember this none are righteous, no not
one. I love how
James says it in verse 13 right after this
James 2:13 Because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful mercy triumph triumphs over judgment.
At the root of it all that when we meet people within our church when we meet people within the world although they might be different although they might not look like us act like us believe the same things we do when we meet people with mercy all of a sudden that will triumph over any judgment mercy he says will cover all of the things. That we have even done but when we’re not merciful things happen well I’m reminded of this whenever I encounter another human being. I’m first reminded out of
Romans 3:10 As it is written none is righteous no, not one.
I’m reminded that although that person’s made some horrible mistakes it’s like watching Cops, you know your “Lord, goodness I’m not as bad as those people!” You know: “what you’re going to do, what you’re going to do, bad boy bad boy”
“You know I haven’t done any of that” You know all of a sudden when you start to look at people like that then you’re looking at them through the lens of judgment. Instead now when you start to look at people that have really messed up in their lives, really screwed up in their lives, and you start to look through the lens of mercy. You you realize you too have the same condition that they do. That you just not let it come out in the ways they have that you still need the forgiveness of Jesus you still need the grace of Christ. You still need the cross to embrace every single day and you begin to look at people through that lens and act in love.
In all of the mistakes of other people that you meet the unforgiving servant is so brutal because he is forgiven of the of a horrific debt that he should have paid and yet when he is freed from the master and freed from that debt. He sees somebody that owes him money and puts him in jail because he can’t pay off the debt that he was forgiven for. This is what Jesus says about that person so also my Heavenly Father will do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother from the heart. What happened was the master found out and he threw him in jail until he could pay back the debt that he was forgiven for. Now I mean a lot of times what happens is when we begin to judge people when we begin to to to to not offer the mercy and the grace we understand in
Matthew 7:5 Hypocrite first get the log out of your own eye then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your own friend’s eye
I mean every single time we walk into a church, every single time we walk into a restaurant, every single time we walk into our place of business, every single time we walk into the place of the world what are we carrying with us what is written on our heart. What is the letter people are seeing? Is it judgment and division or is it are we carrying the very love of God? Are we carrying a bona fide contract that the world can see that this is my God and no other God’s before me? A bona fide contract that says you know what I love God and I know he loves me and because of that I’m signing this contract of love so that I might go out and love you love you. Yes even my enemy yes even those that have injured me yes even those that continue to slander and scandal me scandalize your life. You know I mean that that’s where love becomes a powerful weapon in this world not to hurt people but to gather people to gather people into the place called the church. To gather people in a place called the church under the name of Jesus Christ.
Today James is asking his church what that will look like in their lives. Today I’m asking you what it will look like for you. I’ve examined my heart I’ve examined my life I know what it looks like for me. I’ve got a lot of work to do in it. I do every single day but I know this, that every single day I’m called to check my judgment, to check the hypocrisy that I know lives in my own heart so it doesn’t create division in another person’s heart. And then to truly truly reach out with mercy and love. To reach out with forgiveness and grace to all people and although I might not agree with all people and although I might not agree with a lot of people that I’m still being called to love God and to love my neighbor as I love myself. And that every time is a powerful witness for the love of Jesus with all you need may you share that letter written on your heart today. What that person God puts in front of you and watch the difference it can make in their lives and yours.
Llet’s bow our heads in prayer.
Father in heaven, Gracious God,
Tthank you so much for an opportunity to love again to get it right yet again and in doing so Father to meet people where they are we will meet people in our church and overcome. And I’m proud to say Father that we meet each other in love and forgiveness and grace but Father sometimes that’s not always true. When we leave the doors of the
church instantly we fall back into the world we see the distinctions. Father help us take what we learn in this beautiful place called your church out into the world. Help us take love and grace forgiveness and mercy to all the people that we meet we might not agree with a lifestyle we might not agree with actions we might not agree with
anything maybe in the life of another human being but we will remember none are righteous no not one. That means us bearers of your light still in need of the grace of a savior gracious God let us share that grace with all we meet today and let us be that writ that written letter a letter that could change the life of another human being by what lives in and through us.
And that is you we ask this always in Jesus name and we say together amen
Hey, listen we hope that this has made what I don’t even know oh it’s getting on time I hope that this has made a difference in your life in some small way and remember that if you know when you come to Overcome you’re going to get a message of love and grace and mercy sometimes it steps on your toes but what you’re never going to do is hear somebody you’re never going to hear a message of division.
I think today James really speaks to our heart. Speaks to a lot of denominations. Speaks to a lot of churches. Speaks to a lot of people that feel like differences should be divisions, and I’m hoping that you will put away divisions and yeah you can be different. You might not always agree but they don’t have to separate you from loving one another they don’t have to certainly separate you from bringing somebody to know Jesus and the grace of mercy that he offers everybody in this world.
So hey listen, I want to give you this blessing please may you receive it: May the God of all of creation the saving grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you now and forever, and may that spirit lead you to love people to love people as you love God, and to love your neighbor as yourself to show mercy grace and forgiveness to all you meet because that has been extended to you and to me and we pray this in the
name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and we say together amen.