Wednesday, September 07, 2005

God's vs. Men's Valuation System

This is a personal summary of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong's sermon from James 2:1-4 on 4th Sept 2005

If we only seek things upwards and our hearts never go downwards towards those beneath us in love, our pursuit does not represent godliness. This would mean that the motivation of our pursuit is still very self-centered.

In taking care of the needy, there is also another spiritual mistake in seeing ourselves as dispensers of grace. In this way, we see ourselves as superior and others survive because of us so indirectly we despise people made in the image of God and take God's glory for ourselves.

When we can suffer without falling into the state of self-pity and can give without feeling superior, it is an honorable spirituality. Self-consciousness is very important in some aspects, but in other aspects like this one, the less conscious we are the better we are. Similarly if we love the Lord and we think that we love Him more than others, there is an inward thought that we are more righteous than others therefore our problem begins here.

After the French revolution, people realized that the greatest evil was done in the name of religion although outwardly they might appear to be doing good works. Philosophers then tried to understand the meaning of ultimate good. True goodness is not a tool or a medium, but is the objective and the motivation in itself. Our love for God is also this way. It has to be the end in itself or else it is not true. Our love, righteousness, justice and mercy have to be the motivation themselves.

Therefore James reminds us that we are to do good works, but at the same time to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. If we don't watch our motivation in this matter, in our goodness we will be in a worse state than the world.

In chapter 2, James began by addressing “my brothers”, which means the church. And he said, “As believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't be respecter of men.” It is a contradiction to know the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and still be a respecter of men.

The Lord Jesus is indeed glorious. He is God in the flesh. He is the Word-Incarnate. He was humbled on earth and there was no comely appearance with him. But in eternity, He is worshipped by angels.

The writer is reminding the readers whether they knew that their Lord is glorious. Knowing that our Lord is glorious, how should Christians look at one another? If the church does not treat one another based on the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, worldly decadence will infect Christian fellowship where the high will look down on the low.

James began with faith. He said that based on the faith we have in our glorious Lord, the right actions should reflect, that is, that we do not show favoritism. If we truly believe, how should we behave? How do we judge and evaluate a person's value? We are easily deceived by our eyes as we tend to look at status and outward appearance. In judging this way, we are guilty of injustice, evil motive and misrepresenting our glorious Lord. We need to learn from our Lord. He always honors a person as a human being made in the image of God first, before pointing to his problems.

Humans look at the phenomena, but God looks at the essence. Humans looks at the material things but God looks at our ethics.


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