Going to town on favoritism
My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.
- James 2:1
This week we’ll be looking at the theme of favoritism.
James, talking to a community in the midst of trial, attacks the many and varied ways the unity of the community can begin to fracture. And playing favorites can have a devastating impact on relationships.
James will talk about favoritism with some significant complexity in this chapter. He’s not advocating that we treat everyone exactly the same. Your best friend can still be your best friend. You don’t have to be husband/wife/parent/employer of everyone. That’s not what James is trying to say.
James does three things in this one verse: he reminds his hearers of their relationship with each other, he reminds his hearers of their relationship with Christ, and he connects these relationships to each other in a specific application.
James considers his readers to be brothers and sisters: related to him and related to each other. A new family is formed in the church. This new family should affect how we relate to each other.
When James thinks about Jesus, he wants his readers to remember that Jesus is in charge (“Lord”) and the one who rescued them from their bondage to sin (“Christ”). The Lord Jesus Christ is worth paying attention to (“glorious”) and worth trusting. We believe in him and this should affect how we relate to each other.
Given our relationship with each other and our relationship with Jesus, how can we show favoritism? How can we treat some better than others because of their wealth? How can we disrespect our brothers and sisters who come from humble means and for whom our Savior died?
James is going to go to town on favoritism and this presents an opportunity for us. Where in our lives do we show inappropriate favoritism? How can we know if we’re doing this?