November 11: Favoritism, an Obstacle to Worship

Read James 2:1-12

After reading today’s Bible passage, I paused to think about how often and how quickly I am guilty of judging others. On the basis of a single glance, I sometimes make an initial (and faulty) assessment of a person’s attractiveness, intelligence, income level, respectability, and societal value. Who am I to judge those things or to think that my standard for evaluation is accurate? You see, the standard I use is a prideful one that involves some kind of comparison with myself . . . or at least the self I imagine or desire to be.

It is no wonder, then, that Jesus’ half-brother, James warns against showing favoritism in any form. Favoritism is rooted in the kind of judgment mentioned above and results in preference given to some while rejection is extended to others. James makes clear that I am ill-equipped to judge because I lack divine perspective. God’s assessment turns some of my standards on their head. After all, the poor have a greater propensity towards faith, while the rich find it virtually impossible to come to faith (v. 5, cf. Matt. 19:23, 24).  He chooses the “foolish” rather than the “wise.” He has a special attraction towards the “weak” rather than the “strong.” His kingdom is comprised of the lowly, despised “nothings” of this world (1 Cor. 1:26-31). My favoritism has no place in the church, and my faulty assessment even hinders my worship of Him.

Instead, God calls you and me to embrace the “royal law” of loving our neighbor as we would ourselves. Jesus made clear in the parable of the good Samaritan (Lk. 10:25-37) that our neighbor is anyone in need. Loving him or her requires that I set aside my own agenda and my own assessment of them in favor of their need. Now, from a very practical standpoint in these odd days in which we live, this does not mean throwing caution to the wind. It does mean embracing compassion while discarding favoritism.

Don’t let favoritism hinder your worship! With God’s help, join me in setting aside those snap judgments that result in elitist favoritism. Let’s worship God!


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