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James 2:1-13 “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
This week we talked about a topic that everyone has dealt with in one way or another: favoritism. I know in my life, I have showed favoritism but I’ve also been negatively affected by it. What stood out to a lot of people is the fact that to God, favoritism is a serious sin. We try to polish it up and make excuses for why we didn’t help out coworker or why we only hang out with a certain group of people and ignore the loners. But James says that it doesn’t matter which rule you break, at the end of the day, you still sinned. As Pastor Juan said, “you can give a pig a bath but it is still a pig!”
A lot of our behavior is learned. Maybe we got hurt, so now we push certain people away. Maybe we desire attention and validation from our parents or boss, so we treat them like gods and then backstab or ignore the people around us. Maybe we lock our doors when certain people walk by because we see stories on the news. Or maybe we are just being selfish and looking out for our own interests. But this is a mindset that needs to be broken. When you read the Bible, you don’t see Jesus doing any of those things. Jesus is the perfect example of love and kindness. As Christians, we need to be consistently working so our life is one that emulates His. If you’re not treating others with love and respect, maybe you haven’t fully encountered or understand God’s love. God’s love is one that reaches out to those who are completely different.
Think about yourself. You are a sinner and God, because He is so pure, can’t be associated or in the presence of sin. Instead of ignoring us and thinking that we are too far gone, He made a way so that He could be with us. He made the ultimate sacrifice so that we could experience freedom. So how are you showing that kind of love and sacrifice in your daily life? Who are you blessing that can’t return the favor?
Favoritism keeps us from being more like Christ. It keeps the lost in the dark and from experiencing God’s love. When we love some and not others, we are devaluing God’s creation. It’s saying that some people are worth your time and energy, while others aren’t. Honestly, how degrading is that? God has made every person with unique gifts and has made them in His image. When you show favoritism, you are missing out on a part of Him and in the end, it is ultimately your loss.
On the flipside, how many of us have been negatively affected by favoritism and what do we do when that does happen to us?
1. Clear your head.
2. Know your identity in Christ
3. Understand who gives you fulfillment
If you don’t have a solid foundation of your identity in Christ or you search for fulfillment from friends/spouse/boss/parents, you are never going to be satisfied and you will constantly be changing who you are to meet the fluctuating criteria of those around you. Juan and Daniel made the perfect point for this. “Don’t let favoritism change who you are and who God made you to be. Better to have no one’s favor and know who you are, than to have everyone’s favor and not recognize yourself.” If you need to, write a list of who the Bible says you are. Keep that and when people try to mold you into who they want you to be, you can look back and stand firm on who God has called you to be. Also keep it as a reminder when you feel like showing favoritism, remember that the people around you aren’t just people. You should love and treat them like you would treat yourself or a loved one. Go above and beyond for the people you encounter. Try to get back to that childlike mentality where you see a person for who they are and not just their status or label.
I hope this encourages you to evaluate your life and see where you need to grow. Ask God to show you the people you need to love harder and work toward being the best example of Christ that you can be.