Summary: Favortism is more than a problem it is crisis that the church must face
The Crisis Favoritism Causes
October 1, 2006
Dodie Gadient, a schoolteacher for thirteen years, decided to travel across America and see the sights she had taught about. Traveling alone in a truck with camper in tow, she launched out. One afternoon rounding a curve on I-5 near Sacramento in rush-hour traffic, a water pump blew on her truck. She was tired, exasperated, scared, and alone. In spite of the traffic jam she caused, no one seemed interested in helping. Leaning up against the trailer, she prayed, “Please God, send me an angel . . . preferably one with mechanical experience.”
Within four minutes, a huge Harley drove up, ridden by an enormous man sporting long, black hair, a beard and tattooed arms. With an incredible air of confidence, he jumped off and, without even glancing at Dodie, went to work on the truck. Within another few minutes, he flagged down a larger truck, attached
a tow chain to the frame of the disabled Chevy, and whisked the whole 56-foot rig off the freeway onto a side street, where he calmly continued to work on the water pump.
The intimidated schoolteacher was too dumbfounded to talk. Especially when she read the paralyzing words on the back of his leather jacket: “Hell’s Angels – California.” As he finished the task, she finally got up the courage to say, “Thanks so much,” and carry on a brief conversation. Noticing her surprise at the whole ordeal, he looked her straight in the eye and mumbled, “Don’t judge a book by its cover. You may not know who you’re talking to.” With that, he smiled, closed the hood of the truck, and straddled his Harley. With a wave, he was gone as fast as he had appeared.
Looks can be deceiving. There are times when we believe that Christians have to fit a specific mold or a specific picture that we have created. In reality, often our ideas are based in areas that we have favoritism
A. We Judge People By Their Appearance - Just as the congregation in James 2 judged two visitors by how they looked we often do the same thing.
B. We Judge People By Their Achievements – What has this person accomplished?
C. We Judge People By Their Ancestry - Where did they come from? What is their race? What family are they a part of?
The idea of playing favorites in church seems relatively foreign to us today but it was a major issue when James writes his letter. The issue of favoritism is still alive and well in the church today. We seem to forget the old saying that the ground at the foot of the cross is level.
Favoritism is simply this: favoring one side or party over another. This sounds a great deal like discrimination. It happens in churches all of the time, including this one.
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,"
I. The reality of favoritism (1-3)
Back in James day, and still today, believers were judging people based on externals. One of the Jewish practices of the day was to put the important people closest to the sacred scrolls. You saw how that evolved over time. You can still go to churches today where you might see anywhere from one or two to half a dozen or more chairs up on the stage. Some of the people sitting in them won’t even have a role in the service but they are given a place of prominence based on their title or position in the church.
James addresses the readers as “my brothers,” reminding us that the problem he is about to discuss is a family concern. When-ever he uses that term he is ready to point out something that needs to be changed in their lives.
The issue is “favoritism.” The literal meaning of this word is “to receive one’s face.” Favoritism, partiality or as it is translated in some versions, “respect of persons” is mentioned several times in the New Testament. But in every other case the subject of the verse is God and it is expressed negatively. “God does not show partiality.”(Acts 10:34) “God is not a respecter of persons.” “God does not receive people by face.” “God does not judge by externals, he judges the heart.” (1 Pet. 1:17)
The sad fact is that we are often quick to pass judgment by various external factors, when we do not know the entire situation. We judge people by the way they dress, the way they look, the vehicle they drive or the kind of house they live in.