James 2:1-4 (Lent Readings)
KJV Below (Link to NIV)
My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
Lest we begin to think that James is advocating a faith based purely on externals, he warns us to avoid showing favoritism to people. On the one hand this is a continuation of the verse immediately preceding chapter 2, that is we should seek to love everyone, but particularly those who can’t repay us for the help. On the other hand, this is simply an affirmation of the incredible leveling effect of Grace. No one is better or worse because of Grace, and all should be treated the same. The implication, of course, is that Christians who are better off should make more of an effort to demonstrate the equality of those who (externally at least) aren’t as well off. Do not become a judge.
How often do we look at externals? Are you more concerned with the career someone has, the clothes they wear, the car they drive, the type of smartphone they do (or don’t) have, or are you more concerned with who they are as a person? Judging by externals is often the opposite of how God works throughout the bible. Often those who seemed weakest were actually winning, and the richest were on the verge of losing it all.