JAMES 2:1-4

“My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine 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,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?”

THE EVIL OF FAVORITISM

GOD DOES NOT SHOW PARTIALITY

When we think of the attributes of God, His divine nature and characteristics, we usually think of such things as His holiness and righteousness and His omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. We think of His immutability (changelessness), His eternality, His sovereignty, His justice, and His perfect grace, love, mercy, faithfulness, and goodness. But another attribute of God that is not thought or spoken of so often is His impartiality. Yet that is a serious and recurring theme throughout Scripture. God is absolutely impartial in His dealings with people. And in that way, as with His other attributes, He is unlike us.

HUMANS ARE JUDGEMENTAL

Human beings, even Christians, are not naturally inclined to be impartial. We tend to put people in pigeonholes, in predetermined, stratified categories, ranking them by their looks, their clothes, their race or ethnicity, their social status, their personality, their intelligence, their wealth and power, by the kind of car they drive, and by the type of house and neighborhood they live in.

WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?

But all of those things are non-issues with God, of no significance or meaning to Him whatever. Moses declared,” For the Lord your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God.” He then added that this great and awesome God, who has the right to be however He wants to be,” does not show partiality nor take a bribe” (Deut. 10:17), and He expects his people to reflect that same impartiality.

The New Testament is equally clear about the sin of partiality. To a crowd of unbelievers in the temple, Jesus said, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Paul specifically emphasizes that God is impartial in regard to social status, occupation, or a person’s being free or enslaved. Like their Lord, believers should treat the lowest-paid laborer with the same basic respect as they do a bank president or the socially elite, and treat those who may work under them with the same impartiality and dignity as they give their boss.

WE SHOULD NOT SHOW PARTIALITY

If we do not treat those in need the way God treats them, then His love is not in us (1 John). Later in that letter the apostle writes,” In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us” (4:10-12).

“If someone says, ‘I love God, ‘ and hates his brother,” John goes on to say,” he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (vv. 20-21).

LEARN MORE

The content of this blog comes from the MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Learn more by visiting our website, where this entire set is discounted 50%.

QUESTION: When is a time that you were shown impartiality and inclusion when you expected to be judged and neglected? How did that shape you and teach you about God?

 

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4 Comments

  1. Recently my attention has been drawn to this passage in James. The language James uses also means face or appearance. He essentially tells his readers not to discriminate or show favoritism based upon outward characteristics.
    I recently was the recipient of discrimination while applying for a pastoral position in a church. The reason given for the rejection was they wanted somebody younger. I am 52 years old. The position was working with adults and families not youth. Youth is a value our culture worships and this value has made it into God’s church. It is sad that secular organizations have greater ethics than the church in hiring practices.

  2. Alejandro Reyes Reply

    Interestingly enough, I’ve encountered partiality and prejudice in the church, while the LGBTQ Community has welcomed me with warmth, love and open arms. The prejudice and partiality I’ve encountered in Christian Churches and Messianic Synagogues has been totally absent in the LGBTQ Community, I’ve gone to Pride and other LGBTQ places and found the love and acceptance I never found in church.

    Note: LGBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Transgender and Queer and yes I’m proud to declare that I’m an LGBTQ person of faith.

    • Dear Alejandro,
      Please accept my sincere apology and know that I grieve with you and anyone who are made to feel that they are anything less than people greatly loved by God and the people who love God. This sin is far too common among those who claim the name of Christ.

      For your part do not confuse approval of your lifestyle choices with acceptance as a person. To do this would be to practice your own form of partiality that is indistinguishable from that which you have suffered.

    • God loves you. Those who truly love God love you. However, God came to set you free from the brokenness found in your “alphabet soup” above. Don’t identify with your broken state before Christ. Those who believe on Him have become a NEW creation with a NEW nature. Jesus Christ came to set us FREE from sin… not so we could wallow in it or revel in it.
      God loves you so much He allowed His one and only Son to come and take our beating and our punishment for what He has declared sin and rebellion against Him. Receive the free gift. Repent and be transformed. Allow Him to take you through… to victory over sin.
      God has a great plan for your life. Don’t squander it trying to follow man’s path or their deceptive earthly wisdom which always leads to destruction.

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