Monday, October 24, 2011

James 2:1-9

1 My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.
2 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,
3 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,”
4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?
5 Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to those who love Him?
6 But you have dishonored the poor man.  Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court?
7 Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?
8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF,” you are doing well.
9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

Christians show favoritism in many ways, and it always seems to go directly against the purpose we are called to accomplish.  Consider the following:
1.      We favor the rich, even though it is the poor who need our attention and material support (Luke 14:13, 18:22)
2.      We favor the spiritually mature, even though it is the babes in Christ who need our attention to be discipled (Proverbs 22:6, Matthew 28:19, Hebrews 13:17)
3.      We favor the “cool” and charismatic, even though we are supposed to have Jesus’s heart for the outcasts. (Deuteronomy 30:4, Zephaniah 3:19)
4.      We favor the young (thinking the elderly old fashioned), even though the younger Christians are supposed to learn from the older ones. (same references as #2)
5.      We favor those of our own denomination, even though we are commanded specifically not to make distinctions based on minor disagreements, but to function as one Body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 1:10-13)

Now, what problems does this cause for the church?  Here are a few I came up with:
1.      It looks bad to unbelievers, putting Christ to shame.  If we’re playing favorites, we’re hypocrites!  Plus, why would anyone want to see what Christianity’s all about when they know they’ll just get judged the moment the walk through the door?  (The Casting Crowns song If We Are the Body is actually based on this passage).
2.      It breaks up the church.  Fellowship is supposed to be a place of rest from the weary world with our spiritual family – not a social minefield all too similar to the secular world around us.  Thus, by allowing favoritism to rule, the Church neglects one of its primary functions.
3.      This mindset actually can keep us from witnessing to others!  We may (whether consciously or subconsciously) think, ‘Maybe he’s not church material,’ or, ‘She’s far too involved in her sinful life to want to become a Christian.’  This is a principle I’ve heard called “Trying to clean the fish before you catch it.”  It’s impossible, and it prevents us from winning souls to Christ.

A couple of verses I think we all need to keep on our minds are:
1.      Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (for stopping favoritism in the church)
2.      Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (including us!) (for stopping favoritism in the world)
These are both really well-known verses, so you may have them memorized already.  If not, do so! J

So, today’s discussion starters:
1.      Can you think of other ways we Christians show favoritism?
2.      Can you think of other negative consequences of favoritism on the church?
3.      Can you think of other scriptures to help us avoid favoritism?
4.      What strategies can we use to stop ourselves from engaging in favoritism?


rolyat said...

One way I have caught my own self showing favoritism was at youth group I had a really good friend that I did lot outside of church with. When we were at church we formed our own little "clique" just the two of us unintentionally, but that ended up turning some people off to the youth group as a whole. It was something I wasn't even aware I was doing but it made me realize it is so easy to fall into this transgression. I think if we are all honest with ourselves we can see we all do/have done this.

Sapphire said...

Thank you for being so willing to share your experience with us, rolyat! :-) I (obviously) didn't think of that when I was writing the post, but it makes complete sense now that you mention it.