My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:1–4, ESV)
So how do you size someone up? Is it their clothes or what they drive? Is it by asking what they do for a living? Finding out where their from? Most of us, whether consciously or subconsciously, put people in categories in our mind (“Oh, she’s from California so…” or “He’s a construction worker, therefore…”). These categories may not be all bad. For example, they may help us connect to or build a bridge with the individual. In a situation where I’m sharing Christ with someone, I may chose a different approach with an ex-con than I would with an ex-cult member.
The problem arises when these categories lead to condensation. All too often they cause us to treat people differently, giving an honored place to one over the other. These categories could have to do with race or economic and social status. When we show preference to and give privileges to one group (usually in a “higher” category), we are violating today’s passage.
The Christians James was writing to were, unfortunately, giving hookups to those sporting fine bling and donning lavish duds while at the same time hurriedly shooing the poor to the corner of the church. James said that in doing this, they have become “judges with evil thoughts.” Their motives were wrong. They were embarrassed by one group and wanted to kowtow to another all based upon clothes and wealth. Fortunately that doesn’t happen in our churches any more…HA! Let’s be conscious of how favoritism plays itself out in our local assemblies or even in our home. When we size our brothers and sisters in Christ up and give them preference because of intelligence, race, wealth or sock color, we dishonor Christ. He showered grace upon the poor, sick, tax collectors and prostitutes. May we endeavor to love as Jesus loved.