Summary: We are taught by scripture that all are loved by God, but we tend to segregate groups into “we” and “they.” This is wrong.
Scripture: From the New American Standard Bible James 2: 1-10
1 My brothers, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.
2 For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes,
3 And you pay special attention o the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,”
4 Have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?
5 Listen, my beloved: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?
6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court?
7 Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?
8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well.
9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.
The sin of partiality – one that we all are guilty of! Studying this scripture brought back so many unpleasant memories for me; even from the time I was a young child I was exposed to this sin, and I committed this sin.
Story – I remember when I was in elementary school. We integrated with African Americans when I was in 3rd grade. My teacher had me to help tutor the black children because she believed that they were slower than the white students. We had three black girls in my 3rd grade class. They got to school late every morning and left early every day – because they had to ride a special bus that went back to get them after everyone else had already gotten to school. I didn’t quite get that since I knew that my bus went right by their house! I had seen them playing out in the yard! I also didn’t understand why I had to help out Cheryl or Elnora. They ended up knowing the answers way before I did and could read just as well as I could! Sarah needed a little help, but so did many of the white kids in my class. I ended up going all through school with those 3 girls. We were friends from the beginning. Elnora was our class Salutatorian at my high school graduation. I knew that she was smarter than I was from the beginning! They dressed like we did, they laughed with us, they studied with us, but I never asked them over to my house for supper. I never had a sleepover at their house. It just wasn’t done. Our society was committing the sin of partiality because of skin color.
My sister was in 1st grade when I was in third. They didn’t have KG back then so this was her first experience of school. She had both black and white students in her class. I remember when she brought home a picture of her best friend. We’d heard her talk about her best friend and all that they did together at school. And then they had the school pictures made and traded one with the other. Her best friend was black. I don’t even remember her name but I do remember that my sister was punished for bringing that picture home and for making friends with that little girl. Oh the sin of partiality that we force on our children.
Don’t play with him – he comes from a bad family.
I don’t want you to hang around those girls – their momma is the town gossip.
We don’t associate with Asians – or Mexicans – or African Americans – because they aren’t like us. Heck, we don’t even associate with white people if they aren’t like us!
This isn’t a new problem! Even in the Greco-Roman culture that the letter of James was written in people were grouped according to status. When you went into an assembly, there was often a meal or you sat and listened to a teacher. Those sitting at the head of the table or at the front had status of some kind. Those standing in the back or sitting on the floor had no status. The further away from the speaker you were, the further away from the head table you were – well, then you really were low on the totem pole!