Don’t Play Favorites! – Part 5
“If you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” (James 2:9 NIV)
In his New Testament letter, James wraps up his admonition against playing favorites by stating unequivocally that it’s a sin to do so. The reason? To show favoritism to some and not to others is to break God’s law that says, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Moreover, by stumbling on this one point of the law—or any point of the law, for that matter—we are considered lawbreakers.
James is thus giving us a revelation found elsewhere in the New Testament. The law is a whole entity. It’s like an egg: break any part of the egg and the egg is broken. Likewise with the law: if you never commit murder, but you covet what your neighbor has, you have broken the whole law. Someone may say, “Yes, but I didn’t commit those gross sins.” It doesn’t matter. You broke the law; and with God’s law, there are no distinctions made as to felonies versus misdemeanors or gross sins versus minor ones. That fact is that everybody has sinned and broken the whole law.
This is another equalizing factor in life. Tell me, who of us is able to look down on anybody, if we’re all lawbreakers? If we break the law on one point, we could actually break it anywhere, because by breaking the law on any point, we have shown rebellion against the Lawgiver.
So none of us can show favoritism to someone and look down on another, saying, “What did he do?!” You and I could have done the same thing, given the right circumstances. Here’s what James tells me about myself: I’ve broken God’s law, so I can’t look down on anybody. I can’t judge anybody. The truth is that left to ourselves, none of us is very nice. While many of us have been blessed with a good environment and with families who have kept us in check and kept us away from certain things, we have to ask ourselves, “What wouldn’t we do if left to our own devices?” You and I could do anything if left to ourselves, for the Bible tells us that in the flesh dwells no good thing.
Here, in other words, is what James is saying to us: “Who are you to judge anybody? You’re a convicted felon! You should be serving time! You could have made your bed in hell, but God in his mercy forgave you, and now you’re going to judge somebody else?! When you’re judging the other person, you’re in fact judging yourself!” God isn’t looking for judges. He’s not looking for those who will look down scornfully on others and say, “Why are you living like that? What are you, an animal?” No, God is looking for people who, instead, will say, “Wait a minute. I know you’re in a mess, but I was in a mess too at one time in my life, and God knows I could be facing a situation similar to yours if it weren’t for the grace of Jesus. Come on, let me help you up! Come on, you can get up, through Jesus!” God is looking for lifters, not judges!
To be continued…
Read James 2:8-11.