Many people think that this doesn’t happen in the church! It certainly shouldn’t! Today, I will cover the first part of James 2, that explains favoritism. Favoritism does not always mean that people who look good on the outside are favored and those who don’t look good, are avoided. Most of the time, that is what we assume favoritism is. This passage even speaks of this. However, favoritism also includes looking down on someone who doesn’t look like “us.” It happens in the church too, unfortunately. This passage explains being partial to one person over another.
A Relevant Example In A Church
One time, several years ago, when our daughter was a teenager she went in to her Sunday School class and sat down. Our daughter is very attractive. She was wearing a very small nose ring stud. It didn’t scream rebellion. This was small and my husband and I allowed her to wear it. However, several girls in her Sunday School class, including the Pastor’s daughters, began whispering to each other. Our daughter could tell that they were talking about her. They spoke very condemning. I will substitute another name for our daughter, naming her “Shelly.” From that point on, including several years afterwards, Shelly was avoided by these girls. They walked on and never would talk to her, even in an unrelated location several years later.
Why People May Not Stay At Church
It really saddens me when I think of this situation and looked back at when I was younger as well. I was not always the best dressed. My parents could not afford to clothe me in name brands. I even had a teacher once, in high school make a scene and then wrote a letter to my parents, telling them to dress me in better clothes! What truly breaks my heart the most regarding favoritism, when it happens in the church, is that this very act can be the reason why some don’t continue going to church. They may not accept Christ because of those who claim that they represent Christ, don’t act like they do when they are unkind. They are unwilling to accept those who do not look as they do. Church goers can be a real stumbling block when they show favoritism.
A Tough Time In Life
I think of this situation when I hear the song by Casting Crowns called “If We Are The Body.” Youth groups can be some of the toughest places and the teen years can be really hard years for teens for feel accepted. My husband and I worked with teens in several youth groups many years ago. We tried very hard to make it a point to include especially new young people, and also those who did not seem to “fit in” with other people. Cliques are never good and it happens often in church youth groups, then as people get older.
I believe that often, young people stray away from church for a period of time after situations like Shelly was involved in, happen. People in various churches and denominations have different perspectives regarding piercings, tattoo’s and wearing certain clothing. It is not a reason though to show favoritism and not reach out to someone, especially someone new.
My brothers and sisters, 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 [a]assembly with a gold ring and is dressed in bright clothes, and a poor man in dirty clothes also comes in, 3 and you [b]pay special attention to the one who is wearing the bright 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 [c]motives?
5 Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters: did God not choose the poor [d]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 [e]personally drag you into [f]court? 7 Do they not blaspheme the good name [g]by which you have been called?If, however, you are fulfilling the [h]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 violators. 10 For whoever keeps the whole Law, yet stumbles in one point, has become guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do murder, you have become a violator of the Law. 12 So speak, and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of freedom. 13 For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy [i]triumphs over judgment.James 2:1-13 NASB
An Attractive “Look”, Good Or Bad?
We do tend to favor a certain “look” as people. Some of us like real dressed up, trendy people. Some look down on those who are more dressed up, because they assume that if you are dressed up, you must be spending too much money on clothing. Unfortunately, that is not always true! Some are given nice clothing and some buy very nice second-hand, barely used clothing at an incredibly low price. It is not a reason to condemn! It happens in the church too! Even people who have certain physical characteristics like being ‘fit”, are given more attention.
Are you partial to someone because they do look attractive over another person or are you partial to the one who does not look attractive over the one who does? Either way, partiality means that a persons appearance makes a difference to you for any reason, other than being a person, a friend that you enjoy spending time with. It means that a believer or anyone who comes to your church, is cared for regardless of who they are and what they look like.
One exception to this is when a person is applying for a job. I think this where it is acceptable to choose a person who makes their appearance presentable. But, if we go to a job interview, we should all seek to make an impression. But, this is not what this passage is about.
What Should The Church Do?
We are making distinctions and have wrong thoughts and motives when we condemn people this way. Really, as the church, if we see that a person does not have much, we should see if a person needs help! Maybe we can help them somehow. It might take time to get to know them at first, depending on their situation, but as a church, we need to love people as Christ loves them! He did not prefer the rich and famous, but he didn’t condemn those who had material possessions either. Christ tells us throughout the Bible, how to deal with wealth and what to value.
Verses 9-13 speak well of those who offend in one point, are guilty of all! We all have to live a life that pleases God and when we don’t value what God tells us, we are simply not pleasing Him! This applies to the area of partiality and favoritism then as well! Think about this! It happens in the church too! I hope that you will be His arms and His feet, reaching people and loving them as Christ does! Don’t give them “judgmental glances” that keep people from ever returning or accepting Christ!
If We Are The Body, by Casting Crowns
It’s crowded in worship today
As she slips in
Trying to fade into the faces
The girl’s teasing laughter
Is carrying farther than they know
Farther than they know
But if we are the body why aren’t his:
- arms reaching?
- hands healing?
- words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren’t his feet going?
Why is his love not showing them
There is a way, there is a way
A traveler is far away from home
He sheds his coat
And quietly sinks into the back row
The weight of their judgemental glances
Tells him that his chances are better out on the road
But if we are the body…
And if we are the body
Why aren’t his feet going?
Why is his love not showing them there is a way
Jesus paid much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come
And we are the body of Christ