Playing favorites

Day 12 – Friday, August 12, 2022

Social psychologists say it takes just seconds for people to determine whether they like a person or not. Rapid judgements are made on the basis of first impressions. Assumptions about personality and how successful one is can be based on a quick scan of what someone is wearing, their general appearance, accompanying accessories and other clues indicating a person’s wealth, power and social standing.

While these first impressions can often be ‘accurate’ and difficult to ignore, they’re not necessarily helpful in judging the real worth of a person or in judging whether one person is really better than another. Unfortunately most people fall into the trap of assigning a higher value to people based on visible categories of worldly success. As followers of Jesus, we are to resist this natural tendency of judgment, of valuing one over another, based on ‘success indicators’.  If we operate from a worldly perspective in this regard we are guilty of the terrible sin of partiality.  

James the brother of Jesus, in a letter to fellow Christians, bluntly warns them to stay away from the sin of partiality. 

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? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were  called? If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.  – James 2:2-9

Playing favorites undermines the nature of who God is and what the gospel of Jesus is all about. When we show preferential treatment to the ones with ‘more’, we relate to others in how they can be of advantage to us. We become utilitarian and people become commodified. Partiality destroys the credible witness of the church, because it drags the values of the world in and corrupts the body of Christ. 

God shows no favoritism. 

“For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awe-inspiring God, showing no partiality and taking no bribe” (Deut. 10:17).

“For there is no favoritism with God” (Rom. 2:11).

“There is no favoritism with him" (Eph. 6:9).

“Now I truly understand that God doesn’t show favoritism” (Acts 10:34).

God’s offer of everlasting life is for ‘whoever believes’ and accepts the gospel of grace as outlined in John 3:16. 

Repenting of the sin of partiality involves developing a culture of honor in the body of Christ. This means abandoning discriminating against people on the basis of what they bring to the table. The devotion today is not about avoiding confronting others' sins with truth and love with respect. It is about God’s heart ascribing equal worth to every individual. Nothing of this world’s treasure, credentials or any other category that elevates one person over another impresses the God of all Glory. He invites all to His table of fellowship without discriminating. It flies in the face of God when we exhibit behavior that misrepresents Him. We insult God when we disregard or favor one of His children over another based on our evil hierarchical categories.

Theoretically, you may know that God created each of us with equal value and worth but where does the sin of partiality rear its ugly head in your life?

Who is God calling you to favor equally? What are the cliques and biases you form and hold that anger God?  Do not be in danger of being harshly judged by God of this grievous sin. Repent of the sin of partiality. Ask God’s Holy Spirit to probe your heart and lead you to humbly obey Him.

Search me O God and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! (Psalm 139:23-24)

Chitra Kovoor 
Ministry Fellow, CU Lux

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