James 2:1-5 - 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?
It seems showing partiality is one of those hair-trigger actions people often have when they meet someone new. With a single glance, our internal wheels begin to spin as we deduce a person's character from his physical appearance, words, mannerisms, tone of voice, whether or not he smiled, and how sincere we deem that smile to be.
We can make this business of analyzing people a full-time job, too, can't we? Deep down inside we want to be "scientific" about our critiques, empirically weighing the variables, reserving our decision until more data rolls in, but it's hard, really hard, to do. And then, armed with inadequate data, knee-jerk habits, and a "vibe" of some sort, we commence with our judgments, excuse me, our evaluations.
Why do we do this? Nobody likes that kind of treatment -- the first raised eyebrow and we feel snubbed, retaliatory. Surely, that's why God calls us to simply show love, without partiality, without favoritism, without holding back. That's why caring for widows and orphans and the poor and those in prison and those who are sick is important. In Psalm 68:5, God is portrayed as "A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows." In the New Testament, Jesus showed mercy toward the widow of Nain in Luke 7:12-15, and He was concerned about leaving His own disciples "as orphans" in respect to His upcoming departure (John 14:18).
Perhaps there is no better place in Scripture to see God loving us impartially than when Jesus cries out, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 34:23a). Here, agonized in the flesh and hung low with the weight of our sins, Jesus pleads on our behalf. For we are guilty -- just like those who participated in Jesus' crucifixion.
While God's demand for justice should have been our eternal undoing, Jesus set it right for us. Rather than scorn a scandalous creation, He loved us fully, faithfully, impartially.
THE PRAYER: Lord God, it is good for us to love others with a love like Jesus has shown us. Purge us from partiality and making excuses when we know what we ought to do. Empower us by Your Spirit to do the right thing. In Jesus' Name, we pray. Amen.
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