September 13, 2009

Showing Favoritism

James 2:1-11

Believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.
James 2:1


A while back a friend decided to become homeless for one week. Dirty, unkempt, with only his backpack and a blanket, he was, as he put it, “visibly homeless.” He slept on a bench in the center of our well-kept town or in a shelter for the homeless. He wanted to know how people viewed the homeless.

He found out! Most of the people who walked past him ignored him, except to express their disapproval. One well-dressed elderly gentleman who saw him reading a Bible walked past, saying, “That’s a good book.” The only person who asked if he needed anything was another homeless person. He experienced something of the “favoritism” James writes about.

In most of today’s churches we no longer judge people by the way they dress, because “dressing down” has almost become a fashion statement. But favoritism is alive and well in our culture. We favor those who are on the cutting edge: the well-to-do, beautiful people, stand-out athletes, and high achievers.

James warns us not to show favoritism. In God’s sight the poor are as important as the rich. The special needs child is as precious as the most outstanding athlete. “The Lord does not look at the things human beings look at… The Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). As believers in Jesus, we are called to do the same.

Lord, we are too easily impressed and distracted by people’s outward appearances. Forgive us, we pray, and help us to see people as you see them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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