Devotional Thoughts for Today
My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old 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,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.
I distinctly remember my 1st grade teacher who would give out “special assignments” to her students. These assignments were small tasks such as delivering papers to teachers or retrieving mails from the office. Why it was special, I’m not quite sure anymore since it was simply running errands for the teacher; but it was an excuse to get out of the classroom with a “buddy” of your choosing. In the beginning of the year, I would raise my hand expectantly, but every time I found myself putting my hand down discouraged. It didn’t take me long, however, to realize that my teacher would always pick the same girl, and that girl would always pick the same friend! My teacher had a favorite whom she picked every single time, and that student had a favorite whom she picked every time. It was no secret to anybody in the class, and this left every student feeling like they were loved less than our teacher’s favorite.
Today’s verse begins with a call to all Christians to live a life without favoritism. James, first, notes the obvious: It is easier to pay more attention to the one who is rich than the one who is poor. James, then, radically reframes our perspective by pointing out that God did not show favoritism with us; instead, God chose sinners like us to be rich in faith that we may inherit the Kingdom of God forever. While we were broken and rejected, “He lifted [us] up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay; He set [our] feet upon a rock, and made [our] footsteps firm” (Ps 40:2). When we recognize we are recipients of this amazing love and grace, our response should be to love all our neighbors without partiality as well.
The favoritism James has in mind may be extended to the kinds that seep into all areas of life. We see favoritism in the workplace when the colleagues who have more degrees getting the choice assignments; in schools with the kids from affluent homes having more friends; in the church with the people who are more gifted getting all the attention; and in politics with those who belong to a particular race getting preferential treatments. Favoritism can be as seemingly insignificant as school labels to as big as racism, but as James reveals that partiality is an active rebellion against God’s commands to love others as ourselves.
Let’s take some time today to reflect on the various ways that we may have engaged in favoritism. As we go in repentance for the ways that we may have failed to love others the way God loves us, let us be reminded that God did not discriminate against us but brought us into a life of faith.
Prayer: God I thank You for your love that brought me out of the miry clay to be set upon a rock. I ask for Your forgiveness in the ways I have participated in favoritism. Help me to love all my neighbors as myself without partiality. In Jesus name. Amen
Bible Reading for Today: Ecclesiastes 4-5