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The Problem of Discrimination

The only way we can reject discrimination, as James exhorts us to, is to make ourselves servants who care about others more than ourselves.


The physician of the soul, as of the body, must be capable of doing three things. He must be able to diagnose the malady, to prescribe the remedy, and to affect a cure. As Dr. James puts the stethoscope to the heart of this first-century assembly, he discovers it is suffering from hardening of the spiritual arteries. The symptom: partial paralysis. To some, it is thought that James begins a new section in chapter two. I think not. Rather, I see it as a continuation, because there is a very close relationship between receiving the Word and respect of persons.

But what if you fail to welcome the Word? What will that produce? James says it will produce an acute case of spiritual snobbery, of partiality, of spiritual pride, of discrimination.

We've got a problem here. If I were to ask you to write on a three-by-five card right now, "What does discrimination involve?" you would probably write two or three items, none of which you are guilty of violating. But that approach totally bypasses the fact that discrimination takes a legion of forms:

• You can have economic discrimination against the rich, or the poor. We'll see an illustration of that in this first-century assembly.

• You can have academic discrimination.

• You've got sexual discrimination between male and female.

• You've got political and racial discrimination, to which we are very sensitive, and rightfully so.

• There is discrimination of age. The greatest fraud ever perpetrated on the evangelical community was the generation gap. My friend, there is no generation gap in the body of Christ.

I could go on and on, but why not let James plow your ground? Let me take just a moment to give you the overall argument. I want to give you the whole, ...

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Dr. Howard Hendricks is chairman of the Center for Christian Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is also involved in ministry through books, publications, radio, and video.

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Sermon Outline:


I. We are commanded not to show favoritism

II. Our values are not like God's values

III. Favoritism defies the royal law of love

IV. Discrimination is overcome by servant leadership