Summary: Whether you realize it or not all of us have a list of certain people we like to be with and if were honest we have a list of people we don’t like to be with. There are desirable people and there are undesirable people.
“Playing Favorites at Church”
Whether you realize it or not all of us have a list of certain people we like to be with and if were honest we have a list of people we don’t like to be with. There are desirable people and there are undesirable people.
• Some of us would rather spend time with educated people so we look down on those who don’t have a strong academic background.
• Some have certain race or ethnic groups they don’t want to associate with
• some would rather be with young people so they don’t make time for the elderly
Most of us want to be around people who are like us.... who we agree with on everything. As believers in Christ, there are many of us who make the decision not to hang out with unbelievers. The longer we know the Lord, the fewer unbelievers we know. This was a difficulty that the early church was dealing with at the time that James wrote this letter. James wrote this letter around 60 A.D. and it was a picture of the church at that time…but unfortunately it is also a picture of the church today.
James 2:1. James addresses the listener as my brothers. He is reminding us that this letter is written to the family. He is speaking to believers and the issue here is how we treat people who are different from us. So he gives us some words to live by.
1. Do not show favoritism in the church. The Bible says in Acts 10:34, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but he accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” Galatians 3:28 says there is neither Jew nor Greek, salve nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ. But favoritism continues to show up in the church today. It’s one of those things that really hasn’t changed since these words were written down 2000 years ago. Too many of us favor people based on their abilities.
• If they teach, we think they’re worth more in the church
• if they give, we think they are more valuable to the church
• if they are a leader we think they are more valuable
• if they are wealthy, we often treat them with more respect
The truth is that one is not better than the other; one is not more valuable than the other. In God’s eyes, they are the same and should be in ours as well. So James offers a graphic illustration here of the problem. Two men come into a meeting/synagogue-one is very nicely dressed with nice jewelry. The other is not. The other one is poor and has shabby clothes. And so there is a huge contrast between the two. A man, apparently an usher in the church sees the two men and the rich man was offered a better seat. What happened here is like this-the wealthy man gets a chair, has a nice view and the other man is basically told “if you must sit down, sit on the floor by my feet.” So the rich man is respected and the poor man is rejected.
The symbol used for justice by the courts is a woman who is blindfolded holding scales in her hand. We use this symbol to say that justice is blind. The idea that If you cannot see the two individuals then you treat them the same. This is what it means when the Bible says that God is no respecter of persons. It simply means that with God there are no favorites. God shows no favoritism. Dr. Billy Graham puts it this way. “God has no grandchildren.” Grandchildren can get spoiled. They can get special treatment. James says that it’s a problem when we treat one person this way in the church and another one a different way. He says, “do not show favoritism.”
Look at verses 5-7. James has clearly said here, favoritism is wrong. Here are three reasons.
1. Favoritism is inconsistent with what the Bible teaches about God’s love and grace. Paul was addressing the church in Corinth and they were having a similar struggle. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (TLB) 26 Notice among yourselves, dear brothers, that few of you who follow Christ have big names or power or wealth. 27 Instead, God has deliberately chosen to use ideas the world considers foolish and of little worth in order to shame those people considered by the world as wise and great. 28 He has chosen a plan despised by the world, counted as nothing at all, and used it to bring down to nothing those the world considers great, 29 so that no one anywhere can ever brag in the presence of God.