My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 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. 3 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,”4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Discrimination and prejudice are the evil cousins of favoritism. All three of these ugly sins are rampant in our society. Our culture elevates people based on appearance, wealth, age, and social status. But the Bible is clear, favoritism is not God’s will for Christians. We are to be holy as God is holy. And God does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11).
It is difficult for today’s Christians not to show favoritism and we aren’t alone. Even Christ’s closest followers struggled with bias against people different from them. When the apostle Peter was first called to minister to non-Jewish people, he was reluctant. He later admitted, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” The fact that James addresses the sin of favoritism, shows it was a common problem then, much like today.
So, how do we move away from favoritism and toward God’s desire for us? First, we admit when we have sinned. Second, we ask God to forgive us. Third, we ask God to help us love our neighbors as ourselves. It is as simple as John 3:16, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Jesus died for all people (whoever)—there was no favoritism at the cross and no discrimination in God’s love.
As Christ-followers, we are to put that kind love into practice! We are to reach out to those different than ourselves—different but equal before God!
Have you been the recipient of favoritism, prejudice, or discrimination? If so, how can you apply that experience to showing love instead of favoritism?