Summary: God doesn’t show favourites and neither should we

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James 2:1-13

"Don't Play Favourites"

Everyone wants to feel loved.

Corporate leaders and the lowest paid workers.

White collar, blue collar and unemployed.

The oldest members of society through to the youngest.

It doesn’t matter who you are, or what stage of life you are in, there are few exceptions. Everybody wants to feel loved.

The problem is that people do not always feel loved.

Sometimes people feel rejected.

Other times people feel unwelcomed.

Some are shown very clearly that they are not part of the “in” crowd

Others find themselves in places where it is clear that they do not belong.

Why does it happen? Because we find it so easy to stereotype people.

An obviously irate judge who was glaring down from his bench at the prospective juror. "And just why is it", he asked, "that you don’t want to serve on this jury?" The man replied, "Well, Judge, I’m biased. One look at that man convinced me that he is guilty." The judged frowned and replied, "That man is not the defendant, that is his lawyer”.

There are certain professions that are easy make fun of aren’t there – but I wonder how honest hard working lawyers feel about all the lawyer jokes that fly around. It is so easy to stereotype.

Car salesman are always out to rip you off.

Wharfies are thieves who always steal from the shipping containers.

Blondes are always dumb.

We label, we characterise, we discriminate, we make assumptions. All on the basis of external looks, or their place in life, or their profession, or their ethnic background. It is such a natural thing that sometimes we don’t even give it a second thought. But what does the Scripture think of such behaviour?

A message on James 2:1-13

“Don’t Play Favourites”


The command is pretty simple isn’t it?

Don’t show favouritism.

And James gives us a very visual description as to how it all works.

He starts off by demonstrating.

Favouritism in Action (verses 1-4)

You see James knows people. And he knows that sinful behaviour flourishes in the most unexpected ways:-

Sometimes we can fall into it without really being aware it is present.

Sometimes we have practises which are ungodly, but unchallenged.

Sometimes a habit is so ingrained we don’t even realise how bad it is.

It isn’t until someone else points the finger that we fully come to our senses. That is what James is doing … he is pointing the finger. In fact he doesn’t just point the finger

James tells a story designed to show how deep seated favouritism is.

It is a story of contrasts a story of what happened one morning at church. There were two new visitors that day. One pulled up in a brand new Ferrari 599GTB. He was in his mid-thirties and obviously in good shape. He wasn’t wearing a suit but you could tell he was wearing expensive clothes – the Rolex watch on his wrist made it clear that he was successful.

As a group of people gathered around to admire his car and welcome him another visitor walked down the driveway. He smelt really bad. His clothes were dirty and torn. He really had let himself go. The usher at the door decided it was best that he sit in the foyer – he will still be able to see and hear the service but his smell won’t put us off. Besides we want him as far from the collection bag as possible.

As his chair is being set up the guy who owned the Ferrari has been warmly greeted by a dozen people – they’re all more than willing to get to know him. The other visitor went home unnoticed.

That is the story. And it is a story which is designed to hurt – why does it hurt? Because deep down we know there is a certain measure of truth in it.

It is easy to be willing to speak to certain people.

It is also easy to not be so willing to speak to others.

Indeed …

If we are honest with ourselves we must admit that we are quick to discriminate.

In the Greek the word “favouritism” literally means “receive the face”. That is what we do when we discriminate – we only look at the face value of issues – we don’t look deeper.

So some actions of the community are deemed worse than others.

And some people in the community are given less focus than others.

We can make judgements on all sorts of surface features, without looking deeper.

We try and excuse our guilt by saying “everyone does it” – but the reality is that not everyone does it. Jesus didn’t. When Jesus looked at us He didn’t discriminate on the basis of what He saw.

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