In which people are torn to tatters

by Craig on April 1, 2011

“But you dishonored the poor person.”(James 2:7)

In this verse the rich are “oppressing” the “not rich”. And the “not rich”, in turn, are “dishonoring” the poor.

Both are wrong, and today I looked at the first one, “dishonoring”.

Heres’s the Greek word:


pronounced “ateemadzo” – it rhymes with antipasto.

For starters – here’s how a whole bunch of different Bible translations have this word:

“insulted” (NIV)

“dishonored” (ESV, NASB, NAB [my preferred Bible translation])

“humiliated” (ISV – I heart this one!!  ƪ(◠‿◠))

“despised” (KJV – I don’t heart this one (◠_◠))

Now, I look at how this word was used all the other times in the NT. The contexts will give me an idea of what first century people thought this meant.

Mark 12:4 (the parable of the vineyard and the owner who goes away and sends messengers to find out how the evil little tenants are taking care of business) “Again he sent them another servant. And that one they beat over the head and treated shamefully.

Luke 20:11 (the same parable) “So he proceeded to send another servant, but him also they beat and insulted and sent away empty-handed.”

JN 8:49 (one of those times Jesus was “having at” the Pharisees) “Jesus answered, “I am not possessed; I honor my Father, but you dishonor me.’” (this one was a surprise)

Acts 5:41 (when the Sanhedrin wanted to put the Apostles to death – but thought the better of it) “So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.”

Rom 1:24 (Paul talking of how Pagans had messed up morality) “Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions.”

Rom 2:23 (Paul, talking of the Law, and its use – or misuse) “You who boast of the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?”

And there we have all the uses.

So why is my most favorite translation, “humiliated”?

Because humiliation is when we find the weaknesses of someone

and rip them apart based on these,

and leave them tattered and torn emotionally.

In our minds we raise our own worth by devaluing them

and we do it in the way that hits home the most.

We’ve all done it.

I have.

And my least favorite translation “despised”? I can see why they chose it, but it’s an Old English usage of the word “despised”. It may have meant “humiliated” back then – but it doesn’t now.

So what’s the “so what”?

I think of the Baker in the story (here and here) and how he was obliterated, and shamed, and left “in tatters” – in front of his family and friends.

And it’s awful.

I changed schools a lot growing up. I alternated years, depending on the school, between “top of the social ladder” and “bottom of the pit” in popularity. I remember being at the bottom. I hated every day. I knew what was coming at me and I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I knew I’d be mocked, and reduced “to tatters”.

Have any of you guys been there?

This is what James is talking about in this verse – and it’s cruel.


I’ve been on both ends,

and I know how it hurts to be the object of this kind of cruelty.

I’m sorry for ever having done it.

I really am.

And I’m reminded now, how evil it is – how unlike you it is.

I don’t want to be evil.

I want to be like you.

I have to respect people,

especially those who don’t normally get respect.

Don’t I?

Today I choose to do this, and not just for today.

I’ll need your help. Please help me to be more like you.

Nobody left in emotional “tatters” – that’s the thing.

It’s a sneaky thing, subtle mostly. I’ll need to watch carefully.

I’ll need your eyes. Please give me better eyes.


God Bless.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie April 1, 2011 at 11:30 am

Thanks so much for looking at that situation, verse, word. You’ve helped me see why I need to respect others all the more. You are so good at that, helping me see. God bless you as He helps you see too, each day!


Craig April 1, 2011 at 11:45 am

Thank you Deb – can’t ever see good enough or often enough in this life – but to keep trying – that’s the thing. If he doesn’t help me see I can be pretty blind. God bless you Deb.


Mari April 1, 2011 at 10:33 pm

This made me think of the difference b/w God and us. As you pointed out, we use humiliation to tear others apart but the LORD uses it to build us into new people in His image. Thank you for sharing this. As always, your posts cause me to think “deeper” into what I read. God bless you!!!


Craig April 2, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Amen Mari humiliation two kinds one to build one to destroy. Thank you for that – and thank you for reading – and God bless you.


Cora April 2, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Craig, I’ve been back here about 3 times now, rereading this post. Maybe it’s because I didn’t know what to do with it at first. I grew up humiliated, so I learned both sides — the giving and the taking. Isn’t it ironic how the thing that hurts us the most is the thing we seem to use as weapons when attacked later. You would think we would turn it around and NEVER do something to someone else that had hurt so badly. After being here a few times and rereading your post, I think I realized how well I learned the lessons of hiding the scars! First, I never wanted it known that it got to me, and second, I always wanted to appear as normal, as fitting in, and as not standing out in the crowd. Scars would draw attention. Strange, now that I think of it, that I have been able to talk about what seems to be worse things in my life, but NOT humilation. I’ve never shown those scars. I think of Amy Carmichael’s poem called, Hast Thou No Scars? I’m seeing now that as long as I had other scars that I was “comfortable” with, I could show those. Here it is, the Season of Lent, a time I should be willing to walk in the footsteps of the Lord, yet unwilling to bear the scars He bore. Between your two blogs, I’ve been given a whole lot to deal with this weekend. Thank you for stretching me!


Craig April 2, 2011 at 2:54 pm

What you wrote Cora – so true, “Isn’t it ironic how the thing that hurts us the most is the thing we seem to use as weapons when attacked later.” I know I have. And I have spent a lifetime hiding my scars too – or distracting people with charm or bravado so they wouldn’t look too deeply. I get it Cora. Your words stretch me as well. God Bless and Keep you.


A. April 2, 2011 at 8:50 pm

It is so true-we use what hurts us to hurt others. Very convicting-thanks for showing us this-Cora and Craig.


Craig April 3, 2011 at 8:47 am

Wasn’t me A. It was all Cora. Although I might steal the idea for a post – it’s a brilliant insight. God Bless.


Debra April 3, 2011 at 12:47 am

You ask, “Have any of you guys been there?” In tatters? Absolutely. School mates can be cruel. Too bad they aren’t taught the golden rule above some of the mandated trivia.

Yes, we bear the scars of a lifetime of cruelty. And for this reason, we readily fall on our knees and seek God’s love and healing touch. Or at least those of us who have been wounded most do. Because it’s the “sick who need a physician,” not the whole. It’s the torn and tattered who need mending.

I heart this message because it reminds me that Jehovah Rophi is still in the healing business, still mending broken hearts and tattered souls.


Craig April 3, 2011 at 8:54 am

SO true – and wise Debra “It’s the torn and tattered who need mending.” If we don’t realize we’re broken we really don’t look very hard for God. And if we don’t look… God bless you – and thank you.


Debra April 5, 2011 at 12:31 am

#179 – Thank you for the sublime Easter poem… I’ll say it again: poems love you! No projection please :) Don’t’ make the poem out to be the villain… They heart you Craig. They really do.
# 184 – God couldn’t have chosen a more apt metaphor for us than sheep, could he? I almost cried reading this, just realizing that he would leave the whole flock to rescue me when I wander off and lose my way. He has many a time, and I praise him for his protective arm.
# 186 John 10: 8 – have stood on this one many a time… hearing the Shepherd’s voice above all others has been a safe saver.
#189 – Amen!


Debra April 5, 2011 at 12:37 am

Oops! This was comment was meant fot the most recent post. Sorry.
Something strange happened and I couldn’t seem to comment on the newest one, so I accidently came here.


Craig April 5, 2011 at 10:32 am

I’m keeping it – I like having you in my comment box – even by mistake ƪ(◠‿◠)╯


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