Part 1 of James 2
“How Do We Treat Those Around Us?”
Shabbat Shalom, my precious sisters!
I pray that this finds you being ever drawn closer to our King and amazing Saviour, Yahshua the Messiah!
This morning found me reading James 2. All I can say is “Wow!” What an amazing chapter to say the least! It’s so full of warning, encouragement, and instruction.
As I sat with my Bible on my lap, pondering and praying over what I was reading, I thought I’d share some of it with you. 🙂 To say I was greatly encouraged, but also greatly convicted, is probably an understatement. But, before I get into all that, I wanted to let you know this will be a 2 part series, with the first part being about how we treat our fellow man (or woman), and the second part will be on how we are commanded to take action. I felt that they kind of went hand in hand, and since Yahweh put it in one chapter, I thought I would write about it in a similar fashion. 🙂
But, before we get going, please read James 2:1-6a with me.
“My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Yahshua the anointed, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 6 But ye have despised the poor.” James 2:1-6a
Precious sisters, have you ever thought about how this passage could apply to your own lives? As I’ve been going through the Bible, I’ve been doing a study (which I hope to share with you soon), examining each verse in light of how Satan tries to defeat us, warnings that Yahweh/Yahshua give us, ways we can engage in the battle and fight, as well as be on guard. So, instead of just simply reading through my Bible, I’ve been going through it at an extremely slow pace (atleast for myself), really pondering each and every verse. “How can and does it apply to my life right now?”
Well, as I sat with this passage before me, I couldn’t help but realize how, so many times, I have been at fault in this area. How many of us treat those dressed nicely, who are clean, and “whole”, differently than we do the poor of this world, who aren’t dressed so nicely, who may not be as clean (outwardly), and who may not be as “outwardly perfect”? Have you ever smiled and said “hi” to someone in passing, then passed someone else, and didn’t? Or thought to yourself how poorly off they were and pitied them?
Let me bring it a bit closer to home and bit dearer to my own heart. What about those with disabilities or who are disfigured? Do you treat them as you would any other person? Or are you unsure of how to respond to them, so more or less, ignore them? Do you treat them any differently once you find out who they are?
There have been many times in my life where I just didn’t know what to say, or how to respond to someone who was “less off” than myself (which I later found out where a whole lot better off than myself!). Having a conversation with a “normal” person is easy…most of the time. But what about someone with a “disability” (for lack of a better word)? Do you find yourself struggling with how to respond to them? Do you find yourself passing them up in the store? Or on the road? Or in the congregations? Do you welcome them, like anyone else?
I often struggle with this, but something that has greatly helped me, is volunteering at Joni and Friends Family Camp for the Disabled. It has really shown me in an amazing way, how much these precious people have to offer us…if we’d only take the time to stop and talk with them. I often leave camp with tears in my eyes…as I thank Yahweh for the ability and pure privledge it was to serve them and with them. It is a never ending learning experience for me in what they have taught me…not just about myself, but about who my God really is! They are often soooo far ahead of us and soooo gifted!
But to listen to their parents share their stories, how people just walk right past them, ignoring them, simply because they “looked and seemed” a bit different. They have been kicked out of churches. They have been told that they can’t be in the chior (the one gift they relished in being able to share with others), because they didn’t meet the standard of having the “perfect voice”. These families often feel like they aren’t accepted, no matter where they go, except at camp. Sisters, this is heart wrenching! This should break our hearts, as I’m sure it does, Yahweh’s!
I look at how people treat one of the most precious older ladies in my life…Elisabeth (Elliot) Gren. Yes, it is true. She has pretty much lost her ability to talk. Communication is now extremely difficult. But those that don’t know who she is, often pass her up, totally ignoring her…until they find out who she is. Then they are all over her. Is this not having respect of persons? Is this not the very thing Yahweh condemned? Yes, this is closer to home to me, because I love her so much and we’re really close.
But, put her aside, what about all the others? Sisters, if we could only start viewing people in YAHWEH’s eyes! Don’t stop at outward appearences! Get to know their hearts! Get to know them! Welcome them…regardless…as you know Yahshua would want to be welcomed! Love them, talk with them, encourage them, get to know them…just like everyone else! For you will find that it is you who are greatly encouraged by the lessons these precious people can teach you! Learn from them! Don’t pity them. Love them. For I think you will be very surprised to hear just how many of them pity us!!! Because they have learned to live selflessly. They have learned what it means to give your all to the Saviour and hold nothing back!
We have a saying at camp… “it is we who have the disabilities, not them!” and it is SO true!
I think of talent night…a night that these precious lives can share their gifts and talents with all of us. It’s a night I relish. You cry, you laugh, you walk away with a feeling of awe! As you watch them pour their lives out for Him, singing with all their heart, playing to the best of their ability (and often very beautifully!)…it’s just amazing! They aren’t self-centered. They love life. They love their God. And they will love you with an unconditional love…if you only let them close enough to!
I smile as I think about what Elisabeth has shared in the past. When she was teaching, there was this boy who wasn’t from America, who greatly struggled with English. She often pitied him and would want to give him a higher grade in her class, simply because he had to work so much harder just to make it! But she realized this was going against this passage, just as much as esteeming the “rich” over the “poor” would have been. So we have to be careful to treat all people, with the respect Yahweh tells us to and not esteeming one over the other.
But remember, what you do unto the least of these, you unto Him. Would you treat that person, any differently, if you knew it was your King of Kings? I dare say that if our answer is “yes”, we have not learned this lesson very well, if at all, yet.
So I leave you with this challenge…don’t treat people merely upon their appearences. Ask Yahweh to help you view people in the light of Him. How He views them. Look at their heart. Get to know their heart. Take the time to smile, to encourage, to learn from them. Don’t pass them up…for you could be passing up one of your greatest friendships this side of heaven!