I was honored to be the storyteller for grades K-3 a few weeks ago in our children’s ministry. The story was taken from James 2:1-5. “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”
The thing I love about James is he plainly says what he means. There doesn’t seem to be much reading between the lines. So, there’s not a lot of room for misunderstanding. No doubt, growing up the half brother of Jesus, he saw true authenticity lived out on a daily basis. What a unique and peculiar position to find one’s self in … being raised in the same family as the Son of God and having Jesus as your big brother! I’m sure this is why the book of James is such a practical and livable book. He tells us the right things to do, not to do, to say, and not to say. He shows us exactly how to live out our life following Christ. He actually witnessed this his whole life.
As much as it depended on my husband, Bill and me, our children and grandchildren have been raised to have a good self-esteem. Maybe sometimes too good, I fear. Our daughter Rachel sent us the funniest video of our granddaughter Jude. They were visiting my niece, Sarah, and her husband, Tyler, in Dallas, a few weeks ago. Jude always makes herself at home wherever she goes. She wandered into their bedroom and climbed up into their bed. Rachel asked her, “Whose bed are you in?” She quickly replied, “Who’s better than me? Nobody’s better than me!” Rachel laughed and said, “No, I didn’t say who’s better than you. I asked you whose bed are you in?” (I think we have the self-esteem thing down, now come the lessons on humility.)
My favorite sentence of any book written about the Christian life is from The Purpose Driven life. In the first sentence of his book, Rick Warren says, “It’s not about you!” Amen… Halleluiah… end of story! Our problem is we make everything about us. We hear things like this constantly, “ I don’t like them anymore,” “I don’t think they should do that,” “I wish we would do this the way I used to do it,” “They were all mean to me and hurt my feelings.” I think you get the picture.
It’s not about you! I believe we are told to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow him.
Jesus is the picture of humility. He is the only one who has a right to be proud – after all, He is God! However, the incredible thing about that fact is that Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus laid down His rights for us.
“Jesus who did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”
It is all about Him!
I shutter to think of people being treated the way James is speaking. Yet, to know man and to know sin is to know this not only happened then but it happens now. Being judged by others on their status, clothes, color, job and appearance is appalling to us, and it should be.
I’ve recently watched several films about world history and the many evil dictators who did exactly what James says never to do. They didn’t stop there. They killed millions of people based on ethnicity and more. It saddens me that most people under the age of 35 haven’t been taught the real hard truths of history. In so many cases, it’s been altered and diluted to make it more palatable. The truth is evil men kill innocent men because they consider themselves better than them.
The wonderful news for everyone is that Jesus loves every single person in the world! “ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)
Wouldn’t it be great if we all lived our lives in the manner of Luke 6:31, “Treat others in the same way that you would want them to treat you.” Honestly, how can you go wrong? How do you want other people to treat you? I think I can answer for you because we all have many of the same needs.
You want people to acknowledge your presence. You want to walk into a room and not have to stand or sit alone. You want people to talk to you when you’re new or lonely. You want people to remember you and call you by your name. You want people to ask about your life. You want people to listen to you. You want people to follow up on the joys as well as the sorrows in your life. You want to be included. Sometimes you just want someone to give you a human touch. You want people to tell you that you have worth and value. You want people to tell you that you matter. You want to be needed. You want people to tell you they love you. More than anything else, you want someone to tell you Jesus cares and loves you even when your heart is breaking. You want someone to remind you that it’s all worth it. You want to know that when it is all said and done, you will stand before your Lord and hear him say, “Well done good and faithful servant, enter into your reward.”
We tell our kids they’re great, and we should. But never forget to follow that up with the heart of the truth – it’s not about us, it’s about Jesus. They need to think about others. They need to be selfless and giving. They need to see you live that example before them everyday in consistency and purity of heart. They need to see you showing compassion to others. They need to see Jesus in you.
They need to know that they are created by God for good works that will bring Him glory.
“Therefore, if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus….” (Philippians 2:1-5)
Who’s better than you? Jesus is better!