Summary: There’s a saying, ‘the clothes make the man’. Actually, that’s not true. Clothes don’t make the man; they make the opinion of the man. The stigma is that nicer looking, nicer dressed people are more important. And we see from the text today that things we
INTRODUCTION: There’s a saying, ‘the clothes make the man’. Actually, that’s not true. Clothes don’t make the man; they make the opinion of the man. There’s a certain image that’s portrayed when someone is dressed nice. And surveys have shown that nicer dressed people get treated better. Nicer looking people get treated better. The stigma is that nicer looking, nicer dressed people are more important. And we see from the text today that things were no different in James’ day. But James has something to teach us about the unfavorable attitude of favoritism.
1) Why do we show favoritism?
• Because we’re selfish. Prov. 28:21, “To show partiality is not good—yet a man will do wrong for a piece of bread.” We will compromise for selfish gain. We will show favoritism and partiality when it serves my cause. We are willing to show favoritism to the rich person to get a little something in return. Why waste my time talking with the poor man, he can’t do anything for me? I’m not going to invest my time and attention on orphans and widows, what purpose would that serve? We choose to give someone preferential treatment because we they have something we want. They have something to offer so we throw them some favors. We might show preferential treatment to someone in the church because of how much they contribute financially or because they are talented and serving in various ministries. I might not be willing to confront them on something lest I lose what they bring to the table. When I show favoritism shows I’m selfish.
• Because we’re prideful. We think we’ve got it all together so we make sure we associate only with those who look like they got it all together too. We don’t want to associate with those people. We would rather identify with people who look successful rather than people who look like failures. We would rather die than be seen talking to certain people. It would demean our reputation. I might come to be categorized with them if I associate with them. James attacks this prideful attitude by basically saying, ‘who are you? You haven’t sinned? Are you perfect? Are you any better than the ones you’re unwilling to associate with? NO! Could it be, though, that we want to associate with the people who look like they got it all together because in doing so, we will look like we got it all together too?
• Because we’re prejudiced. We can have the tendency to discriminate toward certain people for various reasons. We are biased toward people because of their color or culture or because of their sexual preferences or because of their political preferences. Prejudiced means to pre-judge which means if we’re prejudiced against someone we are judging them without knowing them. We are judging them based on something specific we notice or, in some cases, it’s merely speculative. We think a certain person is a certain way and we form an opinion based on nothing more than assumption. The problem is we see them for the label we put on them rather than them being a creation of God. Proverbs 22:2, “Rich and poor have this in common: The Lord is Maker of them all.” If I show favoritism then it shows that I am prejudiced toward certain types of people.
2) What does favoritism highlight?
• We are judgmental (vs. 1-4). In some cases we might convince ourselves that we are being discerning when we look down on someone. “Look at him, he doesn’t look right. Those beady eyes; he just looks guilty of something”. So therefore he must be shady and untrustworthy. But James says these thoughts are judgmental and evil. I can’t spiritualize this attitude; I have a critical spirit towards the person. Any why such disapproval? Because they look different? Because they act different? I’m judging you when I don’t know anything about you. I’ve condemned you without a fair hearing. I’ve rendered you negative without determining if there was anything positive about your make-up. My judgment of you was harsh and my criticism quick. Favoritism highlights a judgmental spirit.
• We’ve got it backwards (vs. 5-7). When we show partiality to the rich or the smart or the good looking we are making appearance more important than character. When we do that, we have our priorities backwards. James is saying, “What’s wrong with you? Why do you show such preferential treatment to the very people who are making you suffer by dragging you into the courts and exploiting you? Why would you show favor to those who are slandering the name of Jesus? Whose side are you on? You’ve got it backwards. Here’s the poor man among you who is lean in money but rich in faith and yet you shun him. And then there’s the man who is plentiful in money but lacking in spirituality yet you honor him. You’ve got it all wrong.” In showing favoritism, I’ve got things backwards.