PRACTICE: Recognizing your biases
THOUGHT: Faith and favoritism don’t mix!
WORD: James 2: 1 – 13
What does it mean to show favoritism or partiality? Can you think of any times when you or our church has shown favoritism? Have you ever been the poor person treated condescendingly in a church?
The same Greek word, “distinction” in verse 2:4 (NRSV), is translated “doubt” in Chapter 1:6. This word has the sense of wavering (1:6 KJV) or being divided (2:4 RV). The Bible does not speak against distinction or discrimination based on valid standards; for instance, we should distinguish true teachers from false based on their lives and character (Matthew 7:15-23). Distinction or judgement is bad when it springs from our divided, wavering values. To discriminate according to wealth is to mix worldly values with heavenly ones. This double-minded, unstable character is what James wants to root out.
According to N.T. Wright, “In some parts of the early church they had a rule that if a regular member of the congregation came into church the usher would look after them, but that if a stranger came in, particularly a poor stranger, the bishop himself would leave his chair and go to the door to welcome the newcomer. I have often wished I had the courage to do that.”
DEED: Read the following verses from James 2. Why shouldn’t we show favoritism?
2:4 (compare with Matthew 7: 1-2)
2:5 (compare Luke 6:20)
MEMORIZE: James 2:1 from the Message
My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith.
Additional Scripture helps:
Matthew 22: 36-40 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Matthew 7: 1-2 Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.
TODAY! Make a point of greeting those whom you usually don’t in the sanctuary and in the Fellowship Hall. Don’t usually go into the Fellowship Hall before or after the service?
Intentionally do so today and speak with someone you don’t know.
Commit yourself to avoiding favoritism in the future. Ask God to enable you to do this. Watch for any temptations to show favoritism this week.
A Prayer for this week:
I praise you God, for the way you treat me and all people, rich and poor, young and old,
men and women. Thank you for treating me with mercy.
Help me, Father, to do the same with others. Help me to boldly show kindness and a welcoming way to all those who cross my path this week.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.