Take a moment and read James 2:1-13
Many sins are quite easy to distinguish or so messy they top the list of sins we commonly think of. However, bypassing the elderly man to assist an influential businessman in the community goes unnoticed. Choosing to hold someone in higher regard than another is sin, clearly stated here in James.
Preferential treatment is something our flesh tends to show if not watched. A study conducted by the University of New England in Australia found that infants stared longer at attractive people as opposed to unattractive people. Interesting that from the womb we prefer people that seem to have it "together."
This carries on into adulthood, unless nurtured differently, in the way we approach and treat people. The self-obsessed boss is treated with greater respect and listened to with more eagerness than the quiet assistant who's about to retire. The wealthy and influential family receives greater attention at church than the scruffy half-way house men who show up in a large group. The homeless man goes unnoticed at the street corner as holiday lights flicker off his broken glasses.
We all do it, whether we notice it or not, and if it does, we should ask God for forgiveness for showing partiality. However, we must be fervent in keeping from judging others as we would with lust, greed, anger, and so on. God has not and will never show partiality, which means neither should we.
My encouragement to you (and me!) is to be people that honor God in the way we honor people. Each and every human you come across has the same value on their life as any other and is unconditionally loved by our incredible God. This must be our pursuit: to love others as God loves them, no matter their background, status, financial means, or physical appearance.
James goes on to give four reasons as to why prejudice is wrong:
- Has not God chosen those who appear poor to be rich in faith to inherit the kingdom of God? (v. 5a)
- Are not the rich the ones who dishonor and oppress? (v. 5b-6a)
- Are not the rich ones the very same that drag you to court? (v. 6b)
- Are they not the rich those who blaspheme the name of God? (v. 7)
Granted not all rich are oppressors and ungodly people, and not all poor are godly. But there is certainly something to consider here in our treatment of people.
James writes in verse 8 that "if you really fulfill the royal law" because he believes you and I can do this. He believes we will act in obedience from hearing God's word. So let's live up to that belief!
Now some may read this and not consider such actions a big deal. And James figured there would be readers who thought that, which is why he goes on to make it clear that it is a big deal. The passage closes out by saying that, "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it." You see, even if we fail in this one area we fail in all.
That's one of the beauties of grace. Jesus paid the price for each and every one of our sins, even those that judge others. Our part in the failure is to go to God and truly repent. When we do, He wipes us clean as if it never happened. He no longer sees it.
Step into His grace today and thank Him for such a gift. And go love on those as He has loved you.
- How does this make you think about your treatment of people? Does it move you to do anything different? If so, what?
- Is there someone in your life that you've treated differently based on appearance, personality, or status. How might you correct this?