Weekly Devotional | The Poison of Partiality

This devotional is based on Jeff Purswell's sermon, The Poison of Partiality, given on April 3, 2016.

 

Day 1: The Partiality of Appearances—James 2:1-4

Quotes/References:

  • “When we show favoritism, when we assess people by externals, we are usurping God’s exclusive right to stand in judgment over others. You’re taking the place of God.” Jeff Purswell
  • “If we have faith in Jesus Christ, as James says, then we worship the God who looks not on the outward appearance, but on the heart. If we trust in the Savior who came to seek and to save people from every tongue, and tribe, and people, and language, and social status, and physical appearance, and body type, and educational background, and then we discriminate on the basis of any external factor, we contradict the very faith we profess and we dishonor the God who looked on us in mercy without any regard for how we appeared.” Jeff Purswell

Questions and Reflections:

  • What is the connection between pride and the kind of judging James is describing?
  • How might a sober humility affect that judgment?

Prayer Recommendations:

  • Read Isaiah 53:1-3. Jesus did not descend from Heaven to dwell with us in a physical form that radiated his glory, nor attracted the mere favoritism of man. Ask God would give you a renewed perspective on how deceptive appearance can truly be. Ask that he would give you renewed eyes informed by his Word.

 

Day 2: Partiality Dishonors God’s Ways—James 2:5

Quotes/References:

  • “James is speaking here of election. God chose to set his saving love on people based on nothing in them.” Jeff Purswell

Questions and Reflections:

  • Contrast God’s attitude towards the weak and poor with the world’s attitude. What does the world overlook that God sees in the poor that love him?
  • What is the difference between being poor in worldly standards and being poor in spirit? Which kind is James referring to?

Prayer Recommendations:

  • Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. Praise God for the incredible grace we have found in his Son! For though we have nothing in ourselves, Jesus has given us his own perfect righteousness!

 

Day 3: Partiality Reveals Worldly Values—James 2:6-7

Quotes/References:

  • “To seek the favor of the world is to esteem the world.” Jeff Purswell
  • “When we view others according to worldly standards, favoring the advantaged, we are aligning ourselves with people, a system, and a world that is opposed to the God we worship.” Jeff Purswell

Questions and Reflections:

  • Has anyone ever showed you favor simply because they wanted something from you? Contrast that experience to someone who genuinely loved you. Describe the differences.
  • Why does seeking the values of the world erode faith in God?

Prayer Recommendations:

  • Later in his letter James writes (4:6), “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Repent for the times you have sought the favor of the proud in hope of worldly gain. Follow that with thanksgiving for the promise written in Romans 6:14, “For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace”!

 

Day 4: Partiality Denies Our Allegiance to Jesus—James 2:8-13

Quotes/References:

  • “The Word is one coherent, consistent expression of God. His heart, his standards, his values, his wisdom, his perfection! It’s all of a single piece.” Jeff Purswell
  • “God’s law is not like a stack of stones. You take away one stone, and the stack stays. God’s law is like a sheet of glass. You throw a brick at it, and what happens? Does it just make a hole? No. The whole pane shatters.” Alec Motyer

Questions and Reflections:

  • What is the connection between God’s Word and God’s character? Why does God take any rejection of his law (especially through showing partiality) so personally offensive?
  • Why would James describe the law as the “law of liberty” if Paul, in Romans 7:10, describes the same law as proving death to him?

Prayer Recommendations:

  • Read Romans 8:3-4. Thank God for fulfilling the righteous requirement of the law by sending his own Son to die a lawbreaker’s death.

 

Questions for Group Discussion:

  • Jeff stated in his sermon, “God’s treatment of us is to be the exclusive standard for how we treat each other.” How does this change or inform your view of the sin of partiality?
  • On what basis do you value or reject others? (The leader could encourage the group towards transparency, by reading Romans 7:25 first)
  • At the end of his sermon, Jeff informs us that mercy is the correction of partiality. How have you seen others display this in our small group or church?