Summary: The person who shows partiality often focuses on very trivial, mundane, and changeable things. Sadly, their focus is on such things as clothes, houses, cars, and any and all kinds of outward things.
My dear brothers and sisters, you are believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. So don’t treat some people better than others. 2 Suppose someone comes into your meeting wearing very nice clothes and a gold ring. At the same time a poor person comes in wearing old, dirty clothes. 3 You show special attention to the person wearing nice clothes. You say, “Sit here in this good seat.” But you say to the poor person, “Stand there!” or “Sit on the floor by our feet!” 4 Doesn't this show that you think some people are more important than others? You set yourselves up as judges—judges who make bad decisions. (ERV)
Question: How can you tell if you are in a friendly church? It’s friendly! All across America I have heard of people who have joined a particular church only to discover that a few of its members are unfriendly or they associate only with certain members. You can pass by them and speak; they will give you a very dry hello or not even respond at all.
You’ve been there two or three months and no one including the pastor has taken the time to get to know you…on the surface they are friendly enough, but you still have not developed any meaningful relationships in this church? Yet the people in that church think they are the friendliest church on the planet? It could be that a few of them are simply snobs in the sanctuary who are partial; they play favorites, and are a bit judgmental and prejudice.
Now, I am cognizant of the fact that this can and probably will be considered a controversial issue or thought although I am not trying to be controversial in the least. However we are called to be fearless disciples and there are many people who are looking for acceptance and not the one-minded philosophy of big ‘I’s’ and little ‘U’s’ in the church, because then we become cult-like rather than church-like when certain issues are categorically labeled taboo and must not ever be discussed in any forum.
But God created us to live relationally with each other. He instructs us and warns us, that playing favorites, or prejudging people, and being a snob is wrong and that there are consequences for such behavior. He holds out a better way – practice love and care for each other. Favoritism hurts plain and simple, anywhere cronyism and favoritism goes unchecked is actually an unhappy place—especially if it is in the Church. It just may be the reason for the revolving doors so many churches see in their congregations today.
In our text of Scripture today, James deals with the subject of partiality. The Greek word translated “partiality” literally means, “to accept the face” of someone. Most of the time it is derived from church cliques or even from a pastor who shows favoritism only to members he has deemed loyal to him, and because of their devotion to ‘him’ he will reward them for all to see that their loyalty to ‘him’ has dividends and benefits. I’ve seen many pastors filled with humility, and sadly I’ve seen a few who are a bit arrogant and narcissistic. I really believe that eventually the entire church body can sometimes take on the characteristics of its leader—show me a humble pastor and I’ll show you a humble church. Show me an arrogant pastor and I’ll show you an arrogant church filled with snobs.
When the church is partial and the pastor is partial, many problems are guaranteed to surface within the church body.
The Charge Against Showing Partiality
James, the writer of this epistle, was the biological brother of our Lord (Matt. 13: 55). When James spoke about partiality in the church he knew exactly what he was talking about. If you want to know about his credentials, he succeeded Simon Peter when Peter left on his missionary journey and pastored the great Jerusalem church, which was the mother church of Christianity.
In this epistle, he spoke concerning the trials and temptations common to every believer, which included the subject of favoritism and partiality. Today, here in the year 2013 this subject or topic is seldom preached about, perhaps it may hurt a few feelings or even run a few members away should it be discussed openly—however it must be addressed. I know the word ‘snob’ is an ugly word, if you stand toe to toe with a man and call him a snob it may cause a fight in the church parking lot, and we don’t want that to happen. But what is a snob? By definition a snob is a person with an exaggerated respect for high social position who dislikes people or activities regarded as lower class.
They are people who believe that their tastes in a particular area are superior to those of other people: they often believe what they have whether it’s education, money, all sorts of material possessions, et cetera, places them over and above those who do not have such things. In the church he or she are the “holier than thou" individual who wears his/her spirituality on his/her sleeve for all to see. They are quick to criticize others for their shortcomings with a great big log in their own eye. Such a person shows a bias toward his/her idea of righteousness, which, as we know, is called "self-righteousness." In short, they have what is known as a “Pharisaic Pomposity.”