"THE SIN OF PREJUDICE"
I. NOTICE HOW STERN A WARNING PAUL GIVES ON THIS SUBJECT.
A. I charge you before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels.
B. From such a strong charge we must assume that what Paul is about to tell Timothy is of utmost importance.
C. And indeed it is.
D. Timothy was not to show preference or partiality.
E. All men were to be treated equally.
F. James in his letter rebuked the people for their giving preferential treatment.
1. He first states the principle. "Have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect of persons."
2. He then illustrates how this is sometimes done in church.
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;
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:
Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
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?
G. Probably one of the first recorded cases of God's displeasure for showing prejudice was the case of Aaron and Miriam, the brother and sister of Moses.
And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard [it]. (Now the man Moses [was] very meek, above all the men which [were] upon the face of the earth.) And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation, and the three came out. And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood [in] the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you,[I] the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, [and] will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses [is] not so, who [is] faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even
apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed. And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam [became] leprous, [white] as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, [she was] leprous. And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother's womb. And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee. And the LORD said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in [again]. And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was
brought in [again].
1. It would seem that their's was racial prejudice.
2. On Mars Hill as Paul was speaking to the Athenian philosophers, he said, "God has made of one blood all nations that dwell upon the earth."
II. GOD IS NO RESPECTER OF PERSONS.
For the LORD your God [is] God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:
Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do [it]: for [there is] no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.
[Is it fit] to say to a king, [Thou art] wicked? [and] to princes, [Ye are] ungodly?
[How much less to him] that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? for they all [are] the work of his hands.
A. When God poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit on the gentile believers at the house of Cornelius in Caesarea,
Then Peter opened [his] mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:
For there is no respect of persons with God.
But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed [to be somewhat] in conference added nothing to me:
And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.
B. Jesus was not a respecter of persons.
And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any [man]: for thou regardest not the person of men.
C. We see Jesus speaking to the woman of Samaria at the well. She said, "The Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans." But Jesus did.
1. Jesus made the Samaritan man the hero of one of His parables.
2. Of the ten lepers that Jesus healed only one returned to give thanks, and Jesus notes, "And he was a Samaritan."
D. Jesus has removed all racial barriers.
Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all.
E. It seems that men are always building walls around themselves by which they seek to exclude others.
1. We develop our little clubs, and create initiation rites, and include only those who we wish to invite to join our select little group.
2. Have you noticed how that the teachers always have their teacher's pet?
3. There seems to be something within us that seeks to show partiality.
4. Yet Paul tells Timothy to do nothing by partiality.
F. If Timothy is to be a true minister of Jesus Christ, he must treat all people the same, for Jesus treated all people the same.
1. Your mind might immediately challenge that statement as you think of the woman of Caanan who asked Him to heal her daughter who was grieviously vexed by a devil. Jesus seemed to just ignore her pleas, and when the disciples tried to intervene for her, He responded, "I am only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." The woman came up and began to worship Him and begged for help. Jesus answered, "It isn't right to take the children's bread and give it to the dogs." She responded, but the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the Master's table. Jesus commended her for her great faith and healed her daughter.
a. The problem is with the reference to the woman as a dog.
b. First of all, the Greek word that Jesus used was not the word that the Jews used in their derogatory denouncement of Gentiles. Gentile dogs. The word Jesus used was the word for the little puppies that the children had as household pets.
c. Consider this, Jesus knew the whole time of the great faith that this mother had. He intended the whole time to heal her daughter.
d. He was just skillfully drawing her out to the full expression of her faith.
e. Jesus commended only one other person for their great faith, and that was the Roman Centurian in Capernaum. Jesus said of him, "I have not found this great of faith in all of Israel."
f. Jesus commissioned His disciples to go and make disciples of all nations.
g. They were to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature
h. When Peter went into the house of Cornelius a Gentile, he said, "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him."
2. Isn't it interesting how in spite of all that God has said, we often think of people as being God's favorites, as though they were closer to God, surely God will listen to them and hear their prayers more readily than mine. God is equally close to us all, and the door is open for all to come.
3. What is true, is that there are those who have taken fuller opportunities to come than others, and thus received more of God's blessings.