July 4: Making Distinctions
1 Samuel 8:1–9:27; James 2:1–13; Psalm 119:49–64
We’re often entranced by those who have what we don’t—riches, popularity, position, and power. We want to befriend cool moms, hipsters with ironic mustaches, and supervisors who can get us to the next step on the corporate ladder. We relate to them differently, even though we know we shouldn’t.
Our problem is one of perception. In his letter, James reprimands members of the early church community who were displaying partiality by honoring the rich and overlooking the poor. James shows them that they need to reset their standards because making distinctions in this way doesn’t reflect God’s nature, and it doesn’t reflect the grace He extends to us: “Did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?” (Jas 2:5).
We shouldn’t act with partiality because God didn’t deal with us in that way. We don’t deserve God’s love, yet He, in His perfect holiness, chose to give it to the unpopular, the uncool, the dirty, and the undeserving—which is all of us. James shows us that the proper response to this grace is to love our neighbor: “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well” (Jas 2:8).
Brought into a new community of faith based on grace, Christ-followers aren’t meant to live by the judgment-based standards of their old way of being. The members of James’ community had to reset their standards, and that’s a message we still need to hear today.
Do you make distinctions? How can you view others through the grace that God has shown to you?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R.
- When Samuel was now become old, he made his sons Judge over Israel, (And the name of his eldest son was Joel, and the name of the second Abijah) even Judges in Beersheba. And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took rewards, and perverted the judgment. Wherefore all the Elders of Israel gathered together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: make us now a King to judge us like all nations.But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us King to judge us: and Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hear the voice of the people in all that they shall say unto thee: for they have not cast thee away, but they have cast me away, that I should not reign over them. As they have ever done since I brought them out of Egypt even unto this day, (and have forsaken me, and served other gods) even so do they unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit, yet testify unto them, and show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them. So Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked a king of him. And he said, This shall be the manner of the kings that shall reign over you: he will take your sons, and appoint them to his chariots, and to be his horsemen, and some shall run before this chariot. Also he will make them his captains over thousands, and captives over fifties, and to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make instruments of war, and the things that serve for his chariots. He will also take your daughters and make them Apothecaries, and Cooks, and Bakers. And he will take your fields, and you vineyards, and give it to his Eunuchs, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and the chief of your young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep, and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out at that day, because of your king, whom ye have chosen you, and the Lord will not hear you at that day. But the people would not hear the voice of Samuel, but did say, Nay, but there shall be a king over us. And we also will be like all other nations, and our king shall judge us, and go out before us and fight our battles. Therefore when Samuel heart all the words of the people, he rehearsed them in the eart of the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go every man unto his city. There was now a man of Benjamin, mighty in power, named Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, the son of a man of Benjamin. And he had a son called Saul, a goodly young man and fair: so that among the children of Israel there was none goodlier than he: from the shoulders upward, he was higher than any of the people. And the asses of Kish, Saul’s father were lost: therefore Kish said to Saul his son, Take now one of the servants with thee, and arise, go and seek the asses. So he passed through mount Ephraim, and went through the land of Shalisha, but they found them not. then they went through the land of Shaalim, and there they were not: he went along through the land of Benjamin, but they found them not. When they came to the land Zuph, Saul said unto his servant that was with him, Come and let us return, lest my father leave the care of asses, and take thought for us. And he said unto him, Behold now, in this city is a man of god, and he is an honorable man: all that he saith cometh to pass: let us now go thither, if so be that he can show us what way we may go. Then said Saul to his servant, Well then, let us go: but what shall we bring unto the man? For the bread is spent in our vessels, and there is no present to bring to the man of God: what have we? And the servant answered Saul again, and said, Behold, I have found about me the fourth part of a shekel of silver: that will I give the man of God, to tell us our way. (Beforetime in Israel when a man went to seek an answer of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the Seer: for he that is called now a Prophet was in the old time called a Seer) Then said Saul to his servant, Well said, come, let us go: so they went into the city where the man of God was. And as they were going up the highway to the city, they found maids that came out to draw water, and said unto them, Is there here a Seer? And they answered them, and said, Yea, lo, he is before you: make haste now, for he came this day to the city: for there is an offering of the people this day in the high place. When ye shall come into the city, ye shall find him straightway ere he come up to the high place to eat, for people will not eat until he come, because he will bless the sacrifice; and then eat they that be bidden to the feast: now therefore go up, for even now shall ye find him. Then they went up into the city, and when they were come into the midst of the city, Samuel come out against them, to go up to the high place. But the Lord had revealed to Samuel secretly (a day before Saul came) saying, Tomorrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, him shalt thou anoint to be governor over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hands of the Philistines; for I have looked upon my people, and their cry is come unto me. When Samuel therefore saw Saul, the Lord answered him, See this is the man whom I spake to tee of, he shall rule my people. Then went Saul to Samuel in the midst of the gate, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, where the Seer’s house is. And Samuel answered Saul, and said, I am the Seer; go up before me unto the high place; for ye shall eat with me today, and tomorrow I will let thee go, and will tell thee all that is in thine heart. And as for thine asses that were lost three days ago, care not for them: for they are found: and on whom is set all the desire of Israel? is it not upon thee, and on all thy father’s house? But Saul answered, and said, Am not I the son of Benjamin of the smallest tribe of Israel? and my family is the leader of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin. Wherefore then speakest thou so to me? And Samuel took Saul and his servant, and brought them into the chamber, and made them sit in the chiefest place among them that were bidden: which were about thirty persons. And Samuel said unto the cook, Bring forth the portion which I gave thee, and whereof I said unto thee, Keep it with thee. And the cook took up the shoulder, and that which was upon it, and set it before Saul. And Samuel said, Behold, that which is left, set it before thee, and eat: for hitherto hath it been kept for thee, saying, Also I have called the people. So Saul did eat with Samuel that day. And when they were come down from the high place into the city, he communed with Saul upon the top of the house. And when they arose early about the spring of the day, Samuel called Saul to the top of the house, saying, Up, that I may send thee away. And Saul arose, and they went out, both he, and Samuel. And when they were come down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, But the servant go before us (and he went) but stand thou still now, that I may show thee the word of God. . 1 Samuel 8:1–9:27
- My brethren, have not the faith of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ in respect of persons. For if there come into your company a man with a gold ring, and in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment, And ye have a respect to him that weareth the gay clothing; and say unto him, Sit thou here in a goodly place, and say unto the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool. Are ye not partial in your selves, and are become Judges of evil thoughts? Hearken my brethren, hath not God chosen the poor of this world, that they should be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not the rich oppress you by tyranny, and do they not draw you before the judgment seats? Do not they blaspheme the worthy Name after which ye be named? But if ye fulfill the royal Law according to the Scripture, which saith, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well. But if ye regard the persons, ye commit sin, and are rebuked of the Law, as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole of the Law, and yet faileth in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Thou shalt not commit adultery, said also, Thou shalt not kill. Now though thou doest none adultery, yet if thou killest, thou art a transgressor of the Law. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judgeth by the Law of liberty. For there shall be condemnation merciless to him that showeth no mercy, and mercy rejoiceth against condemnation. James 2:1–13
- Remember the promise made to thy servant, wherein thou hast caused me to trust. It is my comfort in my trouble; for thy promise hath quickened me. The proud have had me exceedingly in derision: yet have I not declined from the Law. I remembered thy judgments of old, O Lord, and have been comforted. Fear is come upon me for the wicked, that forsake thy Law. Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage. I have remembered thy Name, O Lord, in the night, and have kept thy Law. This I had because I kept thy precepts. O Lord, that art my portion, I have determined to keep thy words. I made my supplication in thy presence with my whole heart: be merciful unto me according to thy promise. I have considered my ways, and turned my feet into thy testimonies. I made haste and delayed not to keep my commandments. The bands of the wicked have robbed me: but I have not forgotten thy Law. At midnight will I rise to give thanks unto thee, because of thy righteous judgments. I am companion of all them that fear thee, and keep thy precepts. The earth, O Lord, is full of thy mercy: teach my thy statutes. Psalm 119:49–64