We all have favorites…favorite foods, destinations, actors, cars, and the list goes on. Why? I think it is because they make us happy or fill a need, or both. However, sometimes we have favorites based on popularity, what everyone else says is desirable. Take, for example, vacations. A beautiful beach vacation is the envy of many on social media. It is highly esteemed by society. What is my point?
We have patterns of behavior based on what our society values. Now, beach vacations really are beautiful in their own right, but I hope you get what I am saying, that the world and society have their own rating system. Even people are rated. We are valued for our popularity, wealth, success and connections. Why that matters so much is…we may treat people differently, based on what societal habits are. We have a higher standard for how to treat others. Today, we explore God’s Word, James chapter two, for guidance. James gets right to the point in the first verse, about favoritism.
My brethren, DO NOT hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. James 2:1 NKJV
What does that mean? Can we have faith and also partiality? James says, “do not.” I think he means that we should not treat others a certain way based on their possessions or position or popularity. In his time there were clear class levels, upper and lower class. People were treated based on their wealth, or lack of it. Richer people got better treatment, just like in our world. It is sort of the law of the land. James says wealth should not determine how we treat others. He gives an example:
For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? James 2:2-4 NKJV
We do that don’t we? We sort of become judges and therefore treat someone based on their success, maybe even what they contribute to our lives. But you know what? What if Jesus did that to us? What if He only died for those He preferred or that had wealth or status? I would be in trouble! Thankfully He died for all that He preferred, ALL of us!
This partiality that James speaks of, was a problem then and it is a problem now. It is a trap that we can fall into very easily. We often do not realize that we are doing it. I will give you a personal example that I am not very proud of.
I have been in church all my life and chose to receive forgiveness and Jesus in my heart at an early age. Without realizing it, over the years I became committed to being the best Christian I could be. That’s not bad, but it became a source of pride for me, I am ashamed to admit. When I searched my heart one day, I realized God does not love me better than anyone else because I have been a Christian longer or followed the rules better. He loves us all the same. In fact, I was worse than many because I made a competition out of Christianity.
See, I thought God expected me to be the best Christian, when in reality He wanted me to love Him and others the best that I could. His standard of behavior for us relies on His amazing love and impartiality. So should we strive for those behaviors to please Him and point others to Him. James explains it this way, what law should govern our hearts. This is a great summary of the first half of James chapter two….
So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:13-14 NKJV
Jesus bought our freedom without judging us and treating us like the sinners we are! Therefore, we are to freely love others, not judging, but loving with lots of mercy. What a beautiful picture of selflessness and humility Jesus showed us!
I would have posted this yesterday, but I direly needed to keep praying until I felt I was ready, not to write my own ideas, but whatever the Lord wanted me to say. I asked Him because this chapter, to me, is one of the most important shapers of our purpose here on earth. It focuses on how God’s law gives freedom from the world’s standard of judgement of others and instead, gives mercy and love actions, without judgement. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could say that our favorite person was everyone? Maybe an impossible feat for us, but not with God. We are all His favorites!
We will go over the second half of James chapter two tomorrow!
With much love from the Father to you,