Happy Birthday, Canada!
Today is July 1, which means it was exactly one month ago that we began our Journey in James. So far, we have studied chapter 1, and the first three verses of chapter 2. In the English Standard Version (ESV), the heading for chapter 2 is “The Sin of Partiality.” The New International Version (NIV) says “Favoritism Forbidden.” In verses 1-3, he presented the scenario of two men walking into church: a rich man wearing a gold ring and nice clothes, and a poor man dressed in shabby clothes. The church invites the rich man to sit in a good place, but tells the poor man to “stand over there” or “sit down at my feet.”
have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:4)
Our society has a tendency to show preference to people who are wealthy. We also seem to favour the powerful, the beautiful, the athletic, and the popular. These verses teach us not to judge people on such superficial things.
Favouritism is a big problem in the world, in our families, and even in the Christian Church. Most of you have been a victim of favouritism at some time. You know how hurt you were when that person in your life favoured someone else over you. And maybe there were times when you were the favourite. That put you in a tough position; you didn’t ask for special treatment, and others were jealous. We cannot control the way others treat us, but we can control the way we treat others. You may not think you play favourites with people, but we do it more than we realize.
Before we go any further, let’s be careful not to confuse favouritism with friendship. There is nothing wrong with having a best friend, or spending time with people who are special to you. Friendship is not favouritism! Favouritism is making unfair distinctions between people. It is evaluating people in superficial ways; treating some people better than we treat other people; having different standards for different people.
In James’ day, the Church was just getting started. Some congregations met in homes. Some rented a local synagogue, since the synagogue’s service was on Saturday, and the new Christian Church met on the Lord’s Day (Sunday). It was normal for distinctions to be shown in the seating plan. Different trades had separate sections. There were a few seats down front where the prominent people were allowed to sit. The scenario James wrote about may have been something he had witnessed (or been told about) in one or more churches.
In our day, favouritism is still a big problem – in the home, in the workplace, and yes, even in the church. Without even realizing we are doing it, we can bestow celebrity status on some people in the congregation, while giving the cold shoulder to others. With the Holy Spirit’s help, let’s try not to do that.
Today’s Good News is that Jesus does not show favouritism. He loves us all, He died for us all, and He offers forgiveness and eternal life to us all.
Now, go share the Good News…
FAITH in ACTION!
If you are joining us part way through this Journey in James, you can access the devotionals you missed in the archives. (The series started on June 1.)
If this is your first visit to this website, please read the “Featured Post” from March 1, 2018.