No Room for Sin Nobilis

James 2:1-7

In the Roman Empire, the clothes and the jewelry you wore were very important.  Slaves at one point came to understand this significance.  Some of them saved money they received from their work and bought clothes so they would appear to be of the noble class.  This took on a new look when they began to slip into parties of the wealthy Roman noblemen.  The designer clothes and jewelry they wore caused them to blend in with the noble class.  They took this role imitation to the next level as they endeavored to “out noble” the nobles.  The inevitable finally took place.  Some were recognized for who and what they were.  In their frustration with this annoying problem the noblemen labeled the slaves who participated in the role imitation, “sin nobilis,” which translated means “without nobility.”  The expression became so common that it was shortened to “sin nobes.”  The term endured the ravages of time and is still used today.  We speak of people who put on airs and try to appear to be better than others as “snobs.”

This is, of course, one of the major problems with the class system in many cultures.  People assume the role of being superior to others.  Only when all are recognized as equally valuable in God’s sight can we hope for some degree of normality.  Whether it be through the paradigm of a caste system, or preferential treatment, partiality toward one over another is destined to breed anger, contempt, hatred, rebellion, and worse.  What Christians can glory in is that the ground at the foot of the cross is level.  God sees us all as people needing forgiveness, divine love, and righteous guidance.

By Dr. Gayle Woods

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Giving a Bouquet

Romans 12:17-21

The mischievous boy saw her coming.  He shrank deeper into the shadows.  A cruel grin broke his hardened face.  She was his classmate.  She seemed to think she was better than he . . . at least, the fact that she didn’t seem to recognize his existence told the same.

Today the girl had been sent on an errand of mercy by her mother.  This was common for they were good and compassionate people.  She was wearing a spotless white dress.  She walked carefully to avoid the puddles from the shower of last evening.  In her arms was a bouquet picked just that morning from their flower garden.   She was on her way to the home of a grieving widow hoping to bring cheer during this time of distress.

The boy slipped from tree to tree favoring their deep shadows.  She seemed to not realize that the boy had become her shadow.  Just as she neared her destination the boy saw his moment of opportunity.  Scooping up a handful of mud from a nearby puddle he hurled it at his target.

With elation he saw the beautiful white gown ruined with the mud splatter of his missile.  She stopped dead in her tracks and then slowly turned face her attacker.  Her lips trembled as she fought to hold the tears in check.  Then to his surprise she smiled and stepping forward placed the bouquet in his arms.

His head dropped in shame.  He had come to intimidate.  He desired to hurt.  Instead he had met a peacemaker face to face.  His defensive facade was shattered.  It seemed as if the music made by the rustle of the leaves stirring in the breeze was saying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

By Dr. Gayle Woods

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Living on His Hill

Psalm 15:1-5

A former president of Moody Bible Institute, Joseph Stowell, was visiting with a consultant to some of the largest companies in the country.  In the course of the conversation, Dr. Stowell asked the man about quality control.  He thought he might gain some beneficial insight since ministry is a form of human quality control.  The answer he received was not what he expected.  The man replied, “In quality control, we are not concerned about the product.  We are concerned about the process.  If the process is right, the product is guaranteed.”

Although the insight was not what he expected, Dr. Stowell received a much more valuable lesson.  It is a very simple and relevant lesson.  We often want to see the products of righteousness but fail to remember that if we do not give attention to the process we will not receive the product.  It is essential for us to live carefully each day, continually seeking to know how we can better please the Lord.  That is the process.  It is not something we do only when others are watching.  It is not something we only do on Sundays, Wednesday nights or during revival campaigns.  It is a moment by moment walk with the Lord.  The Psalmist said, “Who shall dwell in thy holy hill?”  Verse 2 summarized the process.  It is an upright walk, a daily work of righteousness, and speaking only truth from the heart.

By Dr. Gayle Woods

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