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Favouritism

James 2:1-4
My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favouritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, 'Here's a good seat for you,' but say to the poor man, 'You stand there' or 'Sit on the floor by my feet,' have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (NIVUK)

Surely, those who say they believe in the Lord (who submit to Him as their Master) Jesus (who are grateful to Him as their Saviour) Christ (and who accept that He is God's anointed one to bring righteousness) - will want to be like Him. The Lord sees all people as sinners (Romans 3:23), loves them equally (Psalm 145:9), has died to bear the punishment of the whole world (1 John 2:2), wants everybody to be saved (1 Timothy 2:5-6) and has founded a church in which "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28).

But some Christians do not share their Lord's generous heart. They discriminate between those who are like them and those who are not, those who are poor and those who are rich ... and so the list could go on to include race, language, class, ability, culture and many other elements that make up a person's background. They forget that heaven will be made up of people of, "… every tribe and language and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9) – all equally purchased by the blood of Christ. Jesus is not so much interested in where we have come from, but where we are going. He does not look to perpetuate our shame but to make us fit for Glory.

One day, all believers in the Lord Jesus will share in His heaven; we will be completely equal as children of God. Nobody will be able to claim their own righteousness - because all have sinned: however, we will all share His righteousness, won for us on the cross. There will be no room for materialistic or nationalistic pride either, because every people-group (marked by language and customs) will be there and nobody will be superior. That is how Jesus treated people: the leper, poor widow, paralysed man and prostitute (Mark 2:16) were as welcome as the synagogue elder (Matthew 9:18) - as long as they wanted to receive from Him and do what He said. The fact remains: neither wealth nor poverty win Jesus' favour - it is faith in action (James 2:26), and not funds, that make the difference with Him.

Secular-minded business practice, whether in the markets, trades or professions often depends on winning favour. This may be gained through 'contacts' of the family, school or college relationships - or even through the church. Making rich people feel important is a cultured art by some Christians; as it may 'open the door' for help or money or other favours. In the same way, those despised by the world can be shunned by the church. Why? Jesus did not behave in either way! So, if in any way we may be inclined to favour people who might benefit us and reject those who are unlikely to help us ... we must repent immediately, and then deliberately choose to start treating people like Jesus did. Today is a good day to start, and our workplace is the ideal environment to behave as Jesus did and taught.

Prayer 
Dear Lord God. Thank You for this rebuke to my pride. Forgive me for having wrongly discriminated against people who cannot bring me any benefit, forgetting that they are made in the image of God, as I am. Please help me to deliberately choose to honour those who are dishonoured by the world and learn to demonstrate Christ's character of compassion and mercy to those who need my love and help. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams

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