James 2:1 – “My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?”
Different Bible translations have the following for favor some people over others: – respect of persons – personal favoritism – partiality – prejudice – snobbery, etc.
The root of these attitudes is “prejudice.” It is easy to become prejudiced toward others – as individuals or as a class of people. Common giveaways of this kind of prejudice are the words “every” and “all” – all politicians are crooked – all preachers are longwinded – all women are vain, all poor people are lazy thieves, etc.).
We surround ourselves by others who feel the same way we do, and make idle statements like these (and many others), not realizing the hurt we are causing in another person’s life. It is only when we become the target of such libel that we began to understand how mean and little minded and hurtful this attitude really is.
The result of this attitude is “favoritism.” Almost without realizing it, we can become snobs where we think we are better than others – intellectually, financially, socially – we look down on people because of the way they are dressed, how much money they have, what kind of problems they have in their lives.
One common expression of favoritism that plagues the church is “cliquishness.” It is wonderful to have close friends in the church, but when we consciously or unconsciously exclude others from our circle of friends, the results can be tragic.
As we read James 2:1-13 it is obvious that the sin of favoritism was one of the socially-acceptable sins of James’ day – one of those sins overlooked because all were doing it. But James wanted them to know how serious the sin really is. To stress this, he makes an appeal to four of the most basic and fundamental doctrines of the New Testament: (1) The deity of Jesus, (2) The sovereignty of God, (3) The authority of God’s word (4) The certainty of judgment.
James turns the biggest of the big guns on the sin of showing favoritism. We will examine all four in the coming weeks!
James 2:2-9: “For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor” – well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives? Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear? Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law…”