Mar 26 8:47 AM
Mar 26 8:47 AM
Mar 26 8:47 AM
Friday, March 26, 2021
James 2:1-4, 8
We have heard a lot about racism over the last few years, and it is a real problem. We can debate about how much of a problem it is, and everybody's gonna see it differently. But really, racism is ultimately a form of favoritism. Favoritism is okay if you're watching a football game. My favorite team is the Saints. Your favorite team may be the Bills. It's okay to play favorites when it comes to sports and things like that, but when it comes to life, we shouldn't play favorites. It shouldn't matter what your skin color is, or whether or not you've got life all figured out, or if you're a man or a woman. It shouldn't matter if you're rich or poor, or if you live in the city or the suburbs, or if you live in New York State or in Texas. None of those things should matter. Because people are made in God's image, we should value all people.
James confronted the problem of favoritism in the church in James 2:1-4, 8. He says, 'Now my brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 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," have you not discriminated amongst yourselves and become judges with evil intent?... If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbors yourself," you are doing right.'
James started with the principle in verse one, and then he unpacked it. The principle is don't show favoritism. What did he call favoritism in this text? He called favoritism showing special favor, discrimination, judges, evil thinking, and special attention. Those are all forms of favoritism. Favoritism should not be part of our lives because it is ultimately judging someone on the outside, whereas God says we judge people on the inside. Again, how we judge people is not by judging their motives, but judging their character. I believe one of the greatest statements Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, which I love, is that he longs for a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. And that's important, the content of our character. What James is saying is, don't let the externals lead you to favoritism and discrimination.
Now here's the thing. We live by a model in America and in the world which says, "I scratch your back, you scratch mine. You help me, I help you." So, sometimes that's a good thing, but sometimes it can lead to favoritism. We have to be really, really careful. But all I want to say is that there are times in your life where you probably are playing favorites in a way that you shouldn't be. You're judging based on appearance, assuming some person is poor and is probably on welfare. You don't know that. Or you say, "That person has that skin color, so they always ... fill in the blank." First of all, there's no "always" with any particular skin color or ethnicity. And I like to tease about Italian people, so I suppose you can pick on your own, but I say it teasingly. But you have to be careful about playing favorites in your life. The great thing about Christianity is we welcome all people. We welcome the down and outers, the up and outers, the inside outers, or whatever way you are. The cross is available to everybody. We say that because of verse eight, where James says, "If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbors yourself," you're doing right." Hey, we have a common humanity. We all came from Adam and Eve. We are all made in the image of God. We're not all Christians, true, but let's love people in the family of God. Let's stop playing favorites. Do you play favorites based on skin color, appearance, clothing, money, or how nice people treat you? Start seeing people the way God does, and stop playing favorites.
Father, forgive me for playing favorites. It's so subtle and pervasive. I pray that you help all of us to not play favorites, but to see people as bearing your image, seeing people as either in your family and needing to be encouraged or outside of your family and needing to be loved into it. And I pray that whatever area of our life we play favorites in, whatever prejudices, discriminations, and favoritism we show, help us to judge people by the content of their character. I ask this in Jesus' name, amen.