Do You Show Favoritism?
Favoritism in the Church
Bible Study Steps
Welcome back to the Study of the book of James. I have designed this study to be simple, for the beginner, yet enticing to peak your curiosity. I will share some simple bible study steps which will make it fun. Digging into God's word will fill the need of your heart for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
This study will begin in James chapter two. If you are new to the study, I'd like to encourage you to go back to the first hub in the series called Life Lessons - James 1:1-4. You will also find hubs on the study of James on my profile page.
The format for this study is laid out in four simple steps. It is designed for you to use with any Bible portion you wish to dig into. It's not intended to be too in-depth (although you can go as deep as you'd like i.e. comparing scripture with scripture etc.) This study is mainly designed for the beginner to Bible Study.
- Step One: Begin reading the passage and stop when the subject changes. Take the portion consisting of one topic and list the verses giving them a title
- Step Two: Paraphrase - put the passage into your own words
- Step Three: Ask, What does this mean to me? Apply the passage to your own life making it personal
- Step Four: Consult your favorite commentator and add additional truths you learned.
I pray that God touches your heart and opens the eyes of your understanding. His word is truth and life. Let's dig in to hear from the God who created you and me.
Showing Preference to the Wealthy
Attitude of Favoritism
Step One: Begin reading James chapter 2 and stop when the subject changes. Take the portion consisting of one topic and list the verses giving them a title (attitude of Favortism). Here are the verses I put under the topic.
James 2:1-9 New International Version
1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism.
2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in.
3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet,"
4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?
7 Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?
8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right.
9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.
Love Does Not Show Favortism
The Sin of Favoritism
Step Two: Paraphrase - put the passage into your own words. Here are my words for James 2:1-9.
1 This is addressed to believers. As believers in our awesome Lord, Jesus we are not to show favoritism.
2 A scenario about favoritism in the Church is now presented. Suppose a rich man comes into your church service. You can tell he is rich because of his jewelry and name branded clothing. Then suppose there is a poor man that comes in alongside him.
3 Do you automatically show preference to the rich man and walk him to the best seat, letting him know you have honored him? Do you then say to the poor man, "Oh we're kind of full today, let me grab a chair so you can sit in the back?"
4 Do you realize that by discriminating between these two men you have made yourself a judge of persons? God is saying that action and those thoughts of honoring the rich while dishonoring the poor are evil.
5 God wants our full attention as he says, "Listen up dear children." God's ways are not your ways. God chooses people, just like that poor man, to have riches far above earthly treasures. God chooses the poor as heirs to the Kingdom of God. The poor man who is rich in faith will inherit God's Kingdom because God promises it to those who love Him.
6 But you have judged according to a social system based on prestige and financial gain. You have insulted the poor. It is the rich who exploit you - They drag you into court. How blind can you be?
7 These rich people, you are showing honor to, are the very ones who are slandering and cursing the noble name of Jesus. Is not Jesus the one to whom you have pledged your allegiance to and the one to whom you belong?
8 If you lived by the Faith you claim - you would keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself."
9 But if you show favoritism to class types, you sin and are convicted by the law as a lawbreaker.
Do I Show Favoritism?
Step Three: Ask, What does this mean to me? Apply the passage to your own life making it personal.
1 I am a believer in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I love Him and know His ways are life and truth. I am listening carefully to his truth about showing favoritism. His instruction is clear. He is telling me that I am NOT to show favoritism.
2 The Lord chose to give me a quick peek of what favoritism looks like by giving this practical scenario: What if a man walks into my Church and I notice that he is a rich man. He has classy clothes on and an expensive ring on his finger. Behind the rich man, a man in shabby clothes comes in the door, he is obviously poor. How do I look at these men? Am I impressed by wealth? Do I look down on a man's misfortunes or social status? I want always to see as Jesus see's - into the heart of a person.
3 Lord, may I never show preference to a person who is rich in the eyes of the world. May I never be found to give the best of my attention to a rich man while ignoring a poor man (in the eyes of the world.) The outward appearance is all superficial smokescreens and none of it matters to God, neither should it matter to me.
4 I must never make myself a judge of persons. Only God knows the heart of the individual. The rich, impressive looking person may have a heart of stone or harbor evil intentions, (certainly not always) while the poor, shabbily dressed person may have a soft and tender heart for God, (again, certainly not always.) The poor man may know God intimately and He may be trusting Jesus Christ in the midst of his difficult circumstances. At one point, Paul and Silas were in Prison. I'm sure they were filthy and looked the part of the common criminal. How would I have looked at these men should I have visited that prison and not understood they were devoted to Jesus? I have an opportunity to learn true humility and faith from the poor man who know's Jesus. I pray the Holy Spirit keeps this truth embedded in my being and that he pricks my conscience should I seek the approval of the rich while ignoring the plight of the poor. The seriousness of this sin is revealed through the usage of the word 'evil' in relationship to partiality toward the rich while looking down on the poor. Evil is a strong word and God is the one who makes this strong statement. Let it ring in my ears should I ever judge by appearance, first impressions, social status, smell, etc.
5 God says He loves me and considers me dear. God is urging me to listen to Him. He is telling me that His ways are not my ways. I must never put God in a box and believe He thinks like I do. I am human, He is the creator, the Lord of ALL. He sees's far above what I see with my limited earthly perspective.
May I always remember that God's ways are not my ways. Let me see people the way you see them dear Father God. You choose people totally apart from social status. The poor person may be in that position so that You can teach him lessons learned in no other way. I have been that poor man for a season of my life. I have learned to depend on Jehovah Jireh (the God who supplies) and to call upon His name to supply my needs. He has been so faithful to answer time and time again. I can take no credit for any financial security I presently experience because I know it was God who supplied and built our business.
I have learned that money means nothing if God is not honored through it. Money does not satisfy or meet my deepest needs. God is who I need - to depend on Him in whatever situation I find myself. There are riches far above earthly treasures awaiting me in Heaven and even here on earth. Riches, such as peace, contentment, knowing God, growing in grace, serving HIm and my brothers and sisters in Christ, reaching those who don't know Him yet, etc. These are the things that satisfy completely. God promises HIs kingdom to those who love him and Oh how I love Him.
6 A person's prestige or financial position means nothing to God, neither should it to me. May I never insult the poor. I must remember that an ungodly rich man could care less about the plight of the poor, in fact, they are known to exploit people. God tells me, Don't be blind to this fact.
7 Let me see as Jesus see's, beyond the smoke screen to see the heart of ungodly rich people. Never must I show honor to those slandering or cursing the precious name of Jesus. My loyalty is to Jesus, I was bought by the blood of my redeemer and I am His.
8 I live by Faith and must keep the royal law found in His precious word, "Love your neighbor as yourself." What does it mean to love my neighbor as myself? I must see the needs of people around me and be willing to meet the needs of those people God brings my way. Lord, let me be your hands and your feet to those near me and those you bring my way.
9 The bottom line is to see as Jesus see's, never showing favoritism, never being found in sin by breaking his laws.
Commentary on James by John MacArthur
John MacArthur Exposes Favoritism in the Book of James
Step Four: The last step of this simple Bible Study Method is to consult a trusted Bible Scholar. In this study, I have chosen to use John MacArthur's Bible Commentary on James.
Here are some additional insights I gleaned from Pastor MacArthur through his study of the book of James.
Pastor MacArthur, in reference to the notion of favoritism, ascribes to God the attribute of impartiality. He says that God is totally impartial in dealing with people which is so utterly unlike us. He says that people tend to put others in categories; higher or lower than others. This partiality may be revealed by judging people according to looks, clothing, the kind of car people drive or house they live in, sometimes partiality is displayed through social status or personality. All of those characteristics are of no significance to God. They mean absolutely nothing to Him.
Where does Pastor MacArthur draw his conclusion that impartiality is an attribute of God? In 2 Chronicles 19:7 it says, "There is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons." In Deuteronomy 10:17 it says, "For the Lord your God is a God of Gods and a Lord of Lords, a great God, a mighty and an awesome God." and then it says this, "who regards not persons." Think about this, when Moses tells us that God is a God of Gods and Lord of Lords and a God who is great and mighty and awesome, he says it by saying God has no respect of persons. He is surely far beyond any man.
In Malachi 2:9 the Scripture says, "I also made you contemptible and base before all the people because you have not kept My ways but have been partial." God says I judged you because of your partiality because you had respect to persons.
James focuses on the impartiality of God with reference to a person's social status, economic status. James draws our attention in a practical way by illustrating Church life. We don't like to admit it but in the church there is partiality. We are impressed with people's bank accounts, etc. We can be very impressed with the job they hold, the profession they're in. We can very impressed if they have a lot of degrees at the end of their name. God is not impressed with any of that. It is utterly of no consequence to Him whatsoever in the matter of evaluating the worth of a soul. It's inconsequential. They're non-issues. God judges and God evaluates and God estimates your worth and my worth and the worth of everyone purely on the basis of the inner person
If you would like to dig deeper, go to John MacArthur's Website called Grace to You.
We Need The Spirit of God to Understand Biblical Truth
The Natural man does not understand or accept the truth's taught in the Bible. As a believer in Jesus Christ, we have been given the Holy Spirit who lives within us. As you sit to study always call upon the Holy Spirit to reveal the wonderful, life-giving truths God communicates to each of us who seek Him.
II Corninthians 2:11-14 "For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them because they are spiritually appraised."
Wrapping up Favortism
In conclusion, from our study today, it is clear that favoritism is evil and if you prefer the wealthy over the poor you are guilty of the sin of favoritism.
If you find yourself guilty, what do you do? Do you walk away, brush it off and forget about it? Are you like the man, in the first chapter of James, who looks in the mirror and see's what is wrong but turns away and does nothing about it?
If you do find favoritism lurking in your heart, maybe in a dusty corner, a place you've ignored, bring it out into the light and expose it for what it is - evil, as God says. Ask God to help you see this world the way He see's it. Learn to look into people's eyes and see life, a life that meant so much to God that He gave his only begotten son to save him.
May God open the eyes of our hearts and make us real testimonies of the grace and goodness of our Heavenly Father.