In today’s world, there are a lot of brands: Nike, Ford, Apple, and Beats are a few to name. We all have our personal favorites. Beyond products, we identify ourselves through a lot of ways such as our physical appearance or our personal beliefs. While we should most importantly identify as Christians, as said in Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.” it is okay to have preferences such as the brands we like or the views we hold. One thing we should be aware of, however, is to not show partiality to people who do not have the same preferences as us.
In James Chapter 2, the author James writes about partiality: “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?” While we live thousands of years after James, people still struggle in the same way that the early Christians did. We may not want to hang out with someone because they buy clothes from a cheaper store or they don’t drive a nice car. We might avoid the person who doesn’t look cool or isn’t very sociable. No matter the reason, showing partiality is what James warns against.
Showing partiality would be looking at someone’s outward appearance, whether it be physically or the way they act. This is not how Christians should be, as 1 Samuel 16:7 says “for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Though we see the outward appearance of people, we shouldn’t let that affect our decision of their character. If we show favoritism to ‘the rich man’ are we trying to gain something from them? Does that friendship only blossom for favors or something in return? James talks about the rich in verses 6-7: “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?” We can try to appease to ‘the rich man’ to get something out of him, but he has nothing to get out of us. James continues by reminding his readers to follow the law: “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. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” While we were all born as sinners, we should do our best to follow the law. And while the royal law in Leviticus 19 was for the Israelites, Christ commanded us in John 13 to “Love one another, even as I have loved you.”
Now I’m not trying to say that you have to interact with every single person and ignore no one, this just could not happen. But don’t exclude a person for no reason. If you know someone in your youth group, co-op group, or other event doesn’t have a lot of friends, introduce yourself and get to know them. We as Christians should demonstrate the love of Christ by showing love to everyone, but this cannot be done if we show partiality.
William Pledger (17) is on staff at TPS Chapel