The Sin of Partiality

James 2:1-4
“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?”

Can we show favoritism over one another and still be faithful in our Christian walk? In other words, can we be snobs?

These verses of Scripture remind me of Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinks, so he is….” The actions we do spring from our hidden thoughts. What we think is what we are; or put another way: our character is formed by our very thoughts.

James teaches us that God has chosen the poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to be inheritors of the promised kingdom. The key word here is chose—God specifically sought out the downtrodden and outcasts to enrich them beyond measure. When Christ walked the earth, did He not also do the same?

The question for us is, “How can I refuse to accept and associate with those whom God has received? How can I exclude from my own home and table, my friendship and love one whom God has called into fellowship with Himself? How can I dismiss lightly one whom God has made in His image, just as I? How can I justify such partiality?

These are tough questions and ones I’m sure each and every one of us can plead guilty to at one point or another. But James reminds us that such behavior is by no means indicative of a true follower of Christ. We must repent of such actions and recognize our worldly behavior is destroying our relationship with God.

Like many other sins, our own pride can be seen at the heart of partiality. We want to maintain our own worldly status and often it comes at the expense of others. We take pride in our position, title, or authority and forget that everything we have, everything we are, is a gift from God Himself. When we forget this simple truth, mercy becomes impossible.

James calls us to speak and act in mercy because we will be judged by that standard, a point Jesus made clear as well (Matthew 5:7). It is a reminder many of us need on an everyday basis.

God has given us mercy, and His expectation is that we extend the same to others. Where there is no prejudice, there is no condemnation. Mercy indeed triumphs over judgment! (James 2:13)