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The Folly of Favoritism (6 of 11)
Joel Gregory quotes the rhyme, "Full many people go to church, as everyone knows; some go to close their eyes, and some to eye their clothes." The little rhyme suggests the reason that James felt compelled to write 2:1-13. Even in the earliest Christian communities social, financial, and racial distinctions already caused tension.
James told the scattered Christians to show mercy, not favoritism, in order to fulfill the Great Commandment and reflect the mercy of God. We must not show favoritism because God has shown us amazing mercy and told us to do the same. God intended that the church be the one place where every believer could meet on level ground.
The main point is found in the very first sentence, "My brothers, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ" (2:1). James was condemning an attitude that was already evident. The word "faith" means the personal trust in Christ that alone secures personal salvation. People who have entered into a faith relationship with Jesus Christ must not let social distinctions and differences continue to find a place in their lives.
The word translated "favoritism" (v.1) or "respect of persons" (KJV) or "partiality" literally means "that which receives the face or that which lifts up the face." The word may mean to "receive the face of another person in an evaluating way." Here's how favoritism works: You scan the features of a new face coming in the church. An instant evaluation takes place. You then categorize the person socially, educationally, and economically and on the basis of such a decision, fellowship is given or withdrawn. Favoritism could be giving preference to the poor over the rich but this is not what James had in mind. His listeners were being tempted to court the favor of the rich by favoring them at the expense of the poor.
James puts forth at least four reasons why Christians ...
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