Don’t Play Favorites! – Part 1
“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.” (James 2:1 NIV)
James, the half-brother of our Lord and a leader in the early Church, wrote of practical matters in his New Testament letter. He discussed suffering and the need to bridle the tongue and other matters that pertained to the day-to-day living of the believers. Among these was the matter of playing favorites with people. James would have been especially sensitive to this in view of the fact that the first believers, who were Jewish, were now getting used to the idea that God had made a way of salvation for the Gentiles as well. It was important that no one in the church felt superior to anyone else because of their background or status in life. And so James addressed the issue of favoritism, in this case, exhorting the believers not to give special attention to someone who was apparently well-to-do, while ignoring or looking askance at a believer of humble means. To do so, he said, was to become judges with evil thoughts. It was evil, in other words, to show favoritism to some and to scorn others; and this word of exhortation is still timely for us today.
It stands to reason that since Jesus pulled us all out of the dirt heap in which he found us, we’re not qualified to judge anybody, especially with regard to outward appearances. After all, we’re followers of Jesus, who humbled himself and left the glory that he had with the Father to come to earth and live… how? Like a millionaire? No! Quite the contrary! He came to be a carpenter’s son! If our Lord and Savior took such a low position in life, who are we to look down on the poor? That would be evil. But Jesus went further. When he was here on earth, he was well-known for not showing partiality—even by the religious leaders who were interested in currying favor with the wealthy themselves. Once, when they were trying to trap him, they actually said these words: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality, but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth” (Luke 20:21). So Jesus is our role model. If a person had a lot of money, that didn’t impress Jesus at all. If they were famous, or had a PhD, it didn’t matter to him. If you were a Samaritan woman at the well, he would be just as likely to talk to you as to anybody else. To show favoritism, then, would be not to act as his followers, but rather, to bring shame on the name of Christ.
To be continued…
Read James 2:1-4.