Show No Favoritism

My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. (James 2:1 NKJV)

My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? (James 2:1 NLT)

James taught the strongest possible connection between faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and impartiality. God does not play favorites, yet we do because we still have a tendency to sin (see James 2:9). The world’s idea of love shows its true nature in its lack of love for the many who often suffer under dire circumstances. In chapter 1, James demonstrated the incompatibility of double-mindedness and prayer, here he showed the impossibility of combining faith and trying to gain the approval of the world.

Can favoritism or partiality coexist with our faith in “the Lord of glory,” Christ Jesus? James emphatically states it’s impossible! God does display preferential treatment, but only towards the poor (James 2:5) due to their richness of faith and only to demonstrate His grace. Special respect of persons based on their high social standing is inconsistent to faith in God. Believers must never mix faith with favoritism. If they do, it is a blatant demonstration of double-mindedness. When favoritism dominates, the obedience of faith is compromised and undermined.

The Lord Jesus Christ is Himself, divinely  glorious. He is the one who is the light and radiance of God. A close connection with Paul’s designation, “the Lord of glory” in 1 Corinthians 2:8 can be detected here in James’ writing. But even the Pauline phrase does not assert what John’s Gospel does with its reference to “His glory” (John 1:14). After all, if John shared the leadership of the Jerusalem church with James (Galatians 2:9), then they probably also shared the same inspired understanding of Jesus. Although the glory of Christ was made clear to the disciples in His resurrection, John asserted that Jesus’ glory was always apparent by faith. In this unique verse in James, Jesus is the very embodiment of the divine glory made present in the world. Like the Shekinah (Glory) to the people of God in the Old Testament and the Immanuel who is Jesus, the very glory of God is embodied in the person of Christ. An interchangeability between Christ and glory is observable here. Christ is the divine Savior, and it is this divine glory that saves the believer.

pd Jesus the word

Since the glorious divine Word came embodied as the Messiah, believers do the works He has assigned to them on an equal standing with each other. Though the gifts that equip one another are differing, we are still equal in unity. This mission is one quality of a person’s participation in the saving glory of God. If the glory of God has not remained out of reach from His people, but has come among them and delivered them from death and sin, then there is absolutely no room for favoritism toward the rich or those the world deems more acceptable. God calls for a certain kind of preferential treatment but again, only towards the poor for the reason stated previously. Those who display an evil mind-set, for example, the proud and the envious (these latter probably were James’ addressees, in particular), will have to humble themselves together with the rich (see James 1:9–11). All acts of favoritism toward the rich of this world contradict the glory of God and His Christ that saves believers.

There is a strong connection between what James wrote in this passage and Leviticus 19:15. The command in that verse says: “You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.” Respect for the entire people of God, particularly toward the defenseless and needy, runs throughout the commands of Leviticus 19. Whenever judgments are made based on selfish gain rather than on true need or on the truth about a wrongful act, justice is perverted. Neglect of orphans and widows and the poor visitor in church are prime examples of Christian neglect, that is, sins of omission and injustice according to James’ writing. The Lord does not show favoritism, and neither should his people. The Law of God, reclaimed by believers in Jesus, has one of its central characteristics as the cultivation of godliness and holiness. But if believers fail at this point, they cannot represent or be the example to others of the faith of Jesus. The example of mindless favoritism found in James 2:2-4, a partiality that disfavors the poor, illustrates how this sin involves a corruption within the entire community of believers.

The Apostle Paul was quick to remind the Galatians of something very similar:

This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. (Galatians 5:8-9).

As Christians there is no place in the Body of Christ for this type of “yeast,” as favoritism is a characteristics that affects the whole Body! If we are truly walking in faith, the faith of Christ Jesus, we are alert, vigilant and consciously aware of these situations that present themselves. Let’s remember to walk in Christ’s example.

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Unless otherwise noted, Scripture taken from the New King James Version®, NKJV © 1982 by Thomas Nelson.
Where noted, Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation®, NLT © 2015 by Tyndale House.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

About Roland Ledoux

Pastor of Oasis Bible Ministry, an outreach ministry of teaching, encouragement and intercessory prayer from the Holy Bible, the written Word of God and author of the ministry website, For The Love of God. He lives in Delta, Colorado with his beautiful wife of 50+ years and a beautiful yellow lab whom they affectionately call Bella.
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