Summary: considers what playing favorites means and how the church can fall into this today and what it means when we do.

Don’t Play Favorites

James 2:1-13


How many of you watched the Blackhawks win the Stanley cup?

It was pretty amazing and those from Chicago were excited. Those from Philadelphia were not so excited to see the Blackhawks win. That is because the Blackhawks were not their favorite team.

No matter what city you travel too, it seems that people are going to be having their favorite teams. Maybe it is because you are from that town, or someone else on the team is from where you live, but many people’s favorite teams are often not based on them being good or not. Just ask Cubs fans.

No often it is based on external factors of location or something like that.

Now there is nothing wrong with having favorite sports teams. In fact people have a lot of favorites. We have favorite foods, and activities and tv shows and movies. We even have favorite people.

Now in the world, people are often treated differently based on external factors, who you know, how rich you are, what you are wearing, what you look like.

This is something that is hurtful to individual people, when a decision about how a person is being treated is being made on such superficial grounds.

And while this does go on in the world, it doesn’t make it right and it is something that should never be going on in the church.

Turn with me to James 2:1-13


This morning we are continuing our series real faith for real life as we work through the book of James and we are going to see that a real faith does not play favorites.

We are going to see that

a real faith treats others as we would like to be treated and

a real faith lives in light of the incredible mercy we have been shown.

James 2:1-13

1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here’s a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!


Ok, James begins by addressing a problem that is going on in the early church that people are playing favorites in regards to who is coming into the church.

He says in James 2:1 - My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism.

I think it is important to understand what James means when he talks about favoritism.

What does it mean to play favorites?

Many times it is helpful to understand something by knowing what it doesn’t mean.

Playing Favorites – What it doesn’t Mean


We need to read Scripture in light of other teachings because sometimes, we misunderstand what is being said.

James is not saying that we are to treat everyone identically.

For instance,

It doesn’t mean…

We don’t show Respect


There are times that out of respect, we will show favor to one person over another.

For example in 1 Timothy, Paul told Timothy to only put widows on the list of who would be helped out by the church if they were over 60 years old (1 Timothy 5:9) and only if she had been faithful to her husband.

Paul was saying that people should be treated differently out of respect.

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