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28 December 2007

The Art of Implication

I love the book of James. It speaks of the practical, real-world life of a true Christ-follower. "If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom." (James 3:13, NLT) If, then. "For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic." (James 3:15, NLT) Demonic. Wow!

One of the nice things about James' writings (and many, many other passages in the Bible) is that they're so straightforward that exposition is really not necessary. Why people give that sort of a statement right before they expound on things, I'll never have any idea. But here I go...

"My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes." (James 2:1-2, NLT) [Emphasis mine]

In my experience, this verse is most often used to state that we should not discriminate against people who come to our church meetings and are obviously not as well-off as others, financially or materially. This is, of course, true. However, note that James says, "For example." Therefore, this is not the sole case in which we're to show the same favor to everyone and regard others as better than ourselves. It is just one example.

In the same way that we must often instruct our children to behave a certain way and expect it to imply a broader standard, so James does here. If I tell my son, "Don't hold the cat upside-down," I also am implying that he should not hold the cat in other non-conventional ways.

I'm interested in your thoughts. What are some of the other ways that we as Christ-followers sometimes unjustly discriminate against people? (One definition of "discriminate" is "to use good judgment," and I'm of course not referring to that sort of discrimination.)


Anonymous said...

Christy here w/ my two cents worth... is that still enough these days? Anyway, the classic of putting our leaders and their families up on a pedestal expecting them to be 'better' than we are. We are ALL the body of Christ and should ALL behave accordingly. I should not expect my pastor and his family to not have bad days and problems w/ their kids (this is my "For example", so don't read anything into it) any less than I have bad days and problems w/ my kids. Does that make sense? I think that we Christians live a double-standard life and we point fingers at each other more than we lift a hand. Thankfully, that hasn't been so much of the case at my home church these days, but it has been before and in other churches I attended. It humbles me when I think that every idle word of mine will be accounted for (Mt. 12:26). If every word is accounted for, I would assume that every action or inaction of mine will also be accounted for. YIKES!

Lisa said...

I need help understanding the implication of the cowboy boot.

Leroy said...

Yeah Dean, explain the boot. :) I think it has to do with the turning the cat upside down. We had a similar saying in Basic Training...long time ago, so I'm paraphrasing "couldn't pour water out of your boots if the instructions were printed on the bottom."

Any "for example" that distracts us from worship, now there's something we should discriminate against!

Dean Lusk said...

Leroy has hit the nail on the head! (I suppose it's a cobbler's nail, too, installing the heel with the instructions on the boot...)

I debated on whether or not to include the picture because that saying has variations that aren't so nice. I left it in just to make everyone's wheels spin, though.

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