We finish off the sketch of how the messianic community was kow-towing to the rich and despising the shabbily-dressed. In this letter, the rich are the oppressors and the poor are the oppressed. As we will see next week, the messianists are poor and they need to learn a lesson from looking round about them to see how God works. But for now, James makes his stunning point in James 2:4, and he does so by asking a question:
Have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
James narrows the problem down to judgment, not in the sense of discernment but in the sense of condemning as unworthy.
There is a theology at work here: (1) humans are made as Eikons of God and are therefore equal of our relationship; (2) faith in the Glorious Jesus Christ implicates a person in the One who was poor and in how he treated the poor; (3) the royal law of liberty and the Jesus Creed (James 2:8-10, 11-13) require the messianist to treat others in love and compassion.
But the act of segregating the poor from the rich, and assigning the poor to the floor, is an act of denial of #1, #2, and #3. That is judgment and that is condemnation and that is acting the part of God (cf. 4:11-12) and that is segregating the messianic community into worthies and unworthies. James says this is absolutely wrong.