Warning against Having
1My friends, if you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, you won't treat some people better than others. 2Suppose a rich person wearing fancy clothes and a gold ring comes to one of your meetings. And suppose a poor person dressed in worn-out clothes also comes. 3You must not give the best seat to the one in fancy clothes and tell the one who is poor to stand at the side or sit on the floor. 4This is the same as saying that some people are better than others, and you would be acting like a crooked judge.
5My dear friends, pay attention. God has given a lot of faith to the poor people in this world. God has also promised them a share in his kingdom that he will give to everyone who loves him. 6You mistreat the poor. But isn't it the rich who boss you around and drag you off to court? 7Aren't they the ones who make fun of your Lord?
8 You will do all right, if you obey the most important law in the Scriptures. It is the law that commands us to love others as much as we love ourselves. 9But if you treat some people better than others, you have done wrong, and the Scriptures teach that you have sinned.
10 If you obey every law except one, you are still guilty of breaking them all. 11 The same God who told us to be faithful in marriage also told us not to murder. So even if you are faithful in marriage, but murder someone, you still have broken God's Law.
12Speak and act like people who will be judged by the law that sets us free. 13Do this, because on the day of judgment there will be no pity for those who have not had pity on others. But even in judgment, God is merciful!
Have you ever been talking to a person and notice that they are scanning the room to see who else is there? It makes you feel unimportant doesn’t it?
James is speaking directly to this issue of showing favour towards one person over another. Partiality, he points out, is especially prone to pop up in the presence of wealth or power.
I fear without Jesus we would all prefer people just like us. We’d like the same language, colour, socio-economic status, interest in music, food or work. In our city church we have some of the wealthiest people in the city and some of no fixed address. There is a temptation to favour one over another and I suspect you face similar temptations. This is why James is so direct.
Followers of Jesus are to relate rightly with everyone: rich or poor, well known or no name, status or none. Be humble. And the secret to that is getting to know Jesus. The more we get to know him the more humility develops in our lives.
While I was working with Charles Swindoll, we attended a conference together. “Chuck” is well known for his radio broadcast ministry called “Insight for Living.” At the entrance to the conference there was a registration table where you put on a name tag. As he leaned over with me to pick up a name tag I quipped, “Chuck, I don’t think you need one of those.” LOL!
As I laughed Chuck looked at me, smiled, and said, “Carson, always put on a name tag.” With that he slapped the sticky tag onto his shirt and entered the room greeting people as he went.
With those few words this mentor taught me something about preferential treatment. Don’t think of yourself as more special than anyone else.
Jesus, I admit that I cannot live without you. Help me to have a heavenly perspective. Help me see people as you see them. Heighten my awareness to any moments when I show partiality to others and help me to live a life of humility. Amen (meaning ‘so be it.’)