“Don’t show favoritism.” These are words spoken of in James 2:1. Favoritism – the practice of giving unfair preferential (giving advantage-preference) treatment to one person or group at the expense of another. The only place in the Bible the word favoritism appears is in this verse. The word partiality, however, appears in 19 passages. Here is just a sampling:
- “You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike.” Deuteronomy 1:17
- “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and awesome God who does not show partiality, nor take a bribe.” Deuteronomy 10:17
- “To show partiality is not good, because for a piece of bread, a man will transgress.” Proverbs 28: 21
- “For there is no partiality with God.” Romans 2:11
The story of Esau and Jacob’s family in one of the greatest examples of “personal favoritism” in the Old Testament; a mother showing partiality to one son and a father showing partiality to the other. The tangled web they weaved had some dastardly consequences. However, James speaks of a different kind of favoritism one which says we’re superior because we have faith. It is about holding on to what we have and not inviting others into the fold. The New American Standard version says it best, “My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.” This is about us choosing not to share our faith at the expense of another… their salvation
What right do we have to think Jesus died only for us and those of like mind? If all Christians everywhere could wrap their heads around the fact Christ died for everyone on the planet, I can’t help but wonder what a better world, we would live in. How often are we ready to set aside/ignore, another race, another faith, another skin color due to prejudice? I never thought of favoritism as a form of prejudice until today… In essence we’re saying it’s about us/me, not you! God loved me, not you… “nana, nana, nana”.
I know people when finding themselves face-to-face with someone dressed in traditional Muslim attire will shun them and quickly leave the area. Should they move into the neighborhood… they move out of the neighborhood. They become filled with fear and refuse to see the person inside. They feel justified due to events which took place against the United States on September 11, 2001. Actions most likely the person standing before them had no say in or control over. Actions which broke their heart for the needless losses of lives and the injustice of it all; just like it broke ours.
My heart not only hurts for my friends whose prejudice has blinded them to others, it hurts for the Muslims. People who live and work in a country where so many pre-judge a culture they’ve never tried to understand, who treat them as less than and want nothing more than for them to leave our country. How easy to quickly judge others while showing no remorse or compassion. It’s too easy to become self-righteous and take on the role of salvation judge. A role only God can fill and should fill. It’s too easy to hold our faith in our glorious Lord up as a closed door, used for a shield of protection, rather than a bridge.
NO! I am in no way throwing stones. All too often I find myself in similar situations responding from my fear rather than a heart for God. I could not get past my fear to see the person; a potential child of God. When growing up my fear was not of Muslims but of the Black Community. The prejudice against the Black Race was strong and while I could not understand, over time the environment of my household convinced me I needed to be afraid. If I were to be honest I still have moments when I must catch myself and remember who God is and who I am; His child. Sadly, there have been opportunities to share God’s love with someone only to have fear based on ignorance and pride keep me from speaking – exactly what James warns us against. No, my friends, I am not casting stones!
Our role as children of God is to love others; to share God’s love through word and deed.If our fear keeps us/ keeps me from befriending those who are different, we are guilty of James 2:1. If we cannot not get past our fears, our superior attitude to the foundation of humility which says, “I am a child of God and except the grace of God go I”, how can we expect to be God’s ambassadors to others.
Many people respond and act the way they do from ignorance… they do not understand God’s love because no one took the time to share or show it. Maybe, just maybe if someone had taken the time past outcomes might have been different. Maybe, just maybe, if we take the time now, someone’s eternity will be different.
We must not “Hold our faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism”!
Until next time,