Vile raiment. In plain English. Absolutely vile. Awful clothing. Just picture it. Stinking filthy. Nothing matches. Stripes in one direction; plaid in another. Surely you’ve seen it. On the subway. Begging on the street corner. Huddled up for a bit of warmth in the corner of the public library in winter with the million years old threadbare coat. The ancient bag lady pouring 10 packets of sugar into the McDonald’s coffee in the booth that has become her second home to the streets. The sugar will tide her over until the soup kitchen opens. The young family with the cardboard sign just down the street from you, and you wonder why couldn’t they pick another neighborhood? Before you turn up your nose any further, or turn away for another moment, or wonder for another second why they can’t just go out and get themselves a job, heed this warning from the Lord.
|photo courtesy of pixbay.com|
Those who wants God’s mercy instead of judgment need to show mercy. Loving our neighbors isn’t about bringing a homemade apple pie to the Smiths and the Jones families that live on either side of our beautiful and immaculate homes, though there is nothing wrong with that. We just can’t limit ourselves to the comfortable, the familiar, the easy, the obvious. Loving our neighbors is about showing love, compassion, and mercy to others including to those in need, even dire need, whether the person be a millionaire widow next door or a homeless man who just can’t seem to get his act together. God doesn’t love one person over another, and we’re not supposed to either. The next time you think about turning the other way when you see someone living in poverty, or want to give preference to the wealthy newcomer at church over the beggar sitting outside the church’s front doors, think again. Think about what God has to say about it. The man in vile raiment may be the perfect opportunity to show the love of God that God has so graciously given you. God’s love isn’t for us to hoard to ourselves. It’s for us to give unto others as He has given to us. Unconditionally.
Jas 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
Jas 2:2 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;
Jas 2:3 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:
Jas 2:4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
Jas 2:5 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?
Jas 2:6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
Jas 2:7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
Jas 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
Jas 2:9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
Jas 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
Jas 2:11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
Jas 2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
Jas 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
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