In this fourth sermon from the book of James, we see the author aims his sights on a very tangible and all too prevalent sin – even among those who claim Christ, the sin of partiality or favoritism. In other words, there’s an inherent tendency for people to treat and approach others based upon externals such as race, social status, perceived influence, etc. and in our approach, an attempt to leverage these things in our favor. This is seen vividly in James‘ example whereby a rich man in fine clothing is given a seat of honor and a poor man is given a seat of contempt. Perhaps no other sinful tendency however is such a flagrant violation and obvious contradiction of the gospel, for if God had decided to treat us according to what we seemed to offer or bring to the table, we would find ourselves hopelessly outcasted.
It’s only because of God’s counterintuitive love shown to us in Christ - treating us as heirs even though we were originally enemies - that we have any hope at all. Thus, in true form we are reminded that favoritism is actually an attempt to elevate ourselves, mask our inherent fear of being superseded, and that's nothing short of idolatry - attempting to manufacture our own prominence, glory and acceptance instead of seeking and savoring the prominence, glory and acceptance we have in God’s eyes that Jesus secured for us through His perfect life and atoning death on the cross.
Making the Connection from Thinking to Action
The remedy for favoritism is “Right Believing” - Believing that you don’t need to “go out” and get things you desire, but instead trust that as a son or daughter of the living God, you already have everything you could ever want, long for or desire. In 2 Peter 1:3-4, Peter reminds Christians that this is a reality for those who are “in Christ” and the gospel is the declaration that God loves us so much and has provided the unlimited resources for life and godliness for His adopted sons and daughters. Believing this is true and living in its reality will allow us to truly love people and not use them to get things we think we need. Click HERE to listen to a sermon describing how we do this.