But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. ~James 2:9
As a child growing up, my favorite part of the school day was right after we finished eating lunch. The boys would play basketball. Two of the boys would be opposing “captains” and take turns choosing from the rest of us players for their respective teams. The selection process was always based on who was the “favored” player. Being chosen early meant you were more favored than someone being chosen last. Playing favorites always meant that the last boys that were chosen were the least-preferred based on skills or even personality. Our Scripture this morning is an important lesson about “playing favorites.”
We see the reason.
“My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.” Favoritism or partiality is when we give higher preference to a certain person or people. This does not mean we cannot have friendships where we have a closer bond towards some and not others. The partiality referred to here is when there is strong aversion towards another person or group of people. It is when there is a strong bias or prejudice in our heart against this person. This bias or prejudice can be a favoritism based on economic, racial, political, educational, or social status reasons. It is when we give preference to someone to the obvious neglect of another.
We see the refusal.
“For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool.” When favoritism is exercised, there is a refusal and rejection of another person. I think of the story of the Good Samaritan. The Levite and priest saw the man who had been robbed, beaten, and left half-dead on the side of the road. Both of these respected men purposely refused to help this man. They did not want to get involved with that man’s condition. Playing favorites is a covered animosity that exposes what is in our hearts.
We see the revelation.
“But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.” James exposes favoritism and partiality for what it really is: sin! In vs. 4, he says favoritism is when we become judges of evil thoughts. He said it is being spiteful of a class of people. It is demonstrating a superiority attitude. It is sin and transgressing the law. It is breaking the commandment of loving our neighbor as our self. It is as much a sin as murder and adultery, vs. 10-11. It is a sin that God deals with in his timing, vs. 12-13.
We see the remedy.
James said, “Have not the faith of our Lord Jesus with respect of persons.” We must substantiate a living faith in our Lord Jesus Christ by being abundant in good works towards people, especially needy people. James uses the example of Rahab the harlot in how she received the messengers and sent them out another way. She could have played them to save her own family. However, her faith in the God of Israel convinced her that she needed to live as a child of God. She put herself at risk in hosting the spies in her home. Yet, she showed them honor and respect by helping them avoid being captured. A real faith is one that is people-centric and always finding ways to be a blessing. In soulwinning, we reach every one. In serving, we serve every one. In hospitality, we welcome every one.
Are you someone who plays favorites? Is there a bias in your heart towards certain people because of their race, wealth, or educational status? Let the Lord of glory give you power to overcome this sin.
Have a faith-enriched God Morning!
Bible Reading Schedule: Matthew 26