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Bible Study: July 27, 2014

NASHVILLE (BP) — This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.

This week’s Bible study is adapted from the MasterWork curriculum.

Bible Passage: James 2:1-7

Discussion Questions: Why are we so prone to show favoritism to one person or group over another? How does James 2:1-7 relate to James 1:19-27?

Food for Thought:

Bibles weren’t originally formatted into chapters and verses. James wrote in 2:1-7 about keeping ourselves unstained by the world, giving an example as spot-on today as it was in the first century — our vast propensity to treat people differently.

We want so badly to think we who spend time in God’s Word and pursue life in the Spirit are long past the ignorance of prejudice, but we dare not make those assumptions. Prejudice in its most obvious form, racism, is an abomination to God and blasphemes His name. Prejudice of any form is never harmless, never funny and never to be taken lightly.

Our greatest bait to discriminate, however, may not be racial. It dangles right here in front of us in James 2:1-7. It’s more about some who seem like winners and others who seem like losers. The thought is, “haves” must be smarter or, at the very least, wiser and must bless the hearts of those poor “have-nots.” At the end of the day, we each naturally prefer those who possess what we esteem, whether money, social status, power, talent, spirituality, intelligence, celebrity, style or beauty, and we devalue those who don’t possess such attributes.

Do we ever catch ourselves giving preferential treatment, paying overt attention to one and covert attention to another?

James casts each of us in a role-play where we’re among those who belong in a given environment when two kinds of visitors enter. Picture it as your local church or small-group Bible study. You belong. Two contrasting people walk in. What happens then? Which one do we seat well, so to speak? Note how pitifully little has changed in what determines our prejudgment. Isn’t much of it still about attire?

Look at James 2:5. Do you see the role God chose for those who are poor in the eyes of the world?

Amazing, isn’t it? Everything is right-side-up from a God’s eye view; but from where we sit, it seems upside down. Make sure you don’t hear that verse say that all poor people are rich in faith and all rich people lack faith. The biggest qualifier of the blessed poor is at the very end of verse 5.

How is it that our nature is so often inclined to prefer those who would not even prefer us? How often do we drool over celebrities who mock the very One to whom we belong? Lord, have mercy on us. Help us see any hint of our faces in this mirror.

MasterWork is an ongoing Bible study curriculum based on works from a variety of renowned authors and offers pertinent, practical messages that adults will find uplifting and enriching. The list of authors and their books to be studied in upcoming months can be found at www.lifeway.com/masterwork.

Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by LifeWay can be found at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool.

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  • Staff/Lifeway Christian Resources