He tossed a crumpled-up $50 bill into the crowd, then started razzing the lucky guy who caught it. “Disgusting! Who knows where that’s been! It might have come from a slimy bathroom floor or a drug deal.”
The guy just smiled. His new $50 bill was worth $50, no matter where it had been.
That’s like us. We have value, no matter where we’ve been. The rich man wearing bling has the same value as the poor man wearing something he found in a trash bin. We shouldn’t favor the former. In fact, the Bible seems to tilt the other direction. “Did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:5)
So four verses later we get the summary. “If you show partiality, you are committing sin.” I get that. God hates partiality, but sin is a pretty serious word.
On a related note, Jesus intervened in a death-by-stoning scene and saved an adulterous lady’s life. He told her he didn’t condemn her…and to go and sin no more.
There’s that word again. Sin.
God doesn’t mince words. He does NOT want us to sin, whether it’s showing partiality or committing adultery. He forgives us when we sin, but he keeps the bar really high. He wants us to grow, get better. To dust ourselves off and try again when we fail. He doesn’t seem to care about where we’ve been, but seems WAY into where we’re going.
The high bar makes me think of pole vaulting. What a crazy-daunting sport. Like…impossible, but putting on the spikes, grabbing the pole, and running my heart out toward the high bar beats the alternative. And running toward something great, unencumbered, takes the sting out of my regrets, mistakes, and yes, sins.
AND…at the risk of “over-reaching” with the metaphor, the best news of all is that if we believe, God has already taken us over the top of that bar, so to speak. That happened about two thousand years ago. Talk about value.
(The guy who tossed the $50 bill and connected it to story of the woman-caught-in-adultery is Ernest Smith, pastor of Front Range Christian Church, Castle Rock, Colorado in a sermon based on James 2:1-13 on July 23, 2017. Thank you, Ernest. Remind me if you ever preach that sermon again so I can sit closer to the front!)