James 2:1 – 4
Like I have iterated, there are many things we can learn from this Book of James; we have learnt from the first chapter that we ought to be slow in our response to issues, slow in getting angry and very apt to listen, because in learning how to listen with the intent of understanding, we set ourselves up for the right judgment in every affair that we find ourselves engaged in. We learned that we can champion causes, such as, looking after the widows, orphans and the fatherless – though these things are good, they have no bearing on our Salvation. Charles Haddon Spurgeon puts it rightly when he said, “Although works do not justify a man before God, they do justify a man’s profession before his fellows.”
Here is James again speaking with his fellow Jews in diaspora in their predicament, trials and tribulation. He started to highlight some of the things he felt they were doing wrong. Here is another one, which is quite important and still prevalent in the Church today. It is the issue of favouritism, partiality and bias towards one another. I am careful to say that these are some of the things we ignore especially in the Body of Christ. I agree this is also very rampant in our world today, and should the same be mentioned amongst God’s children? God is very much impartial; He died for the whole World, not some particular sect or group of people.
There are some other terms we can use to qualify this verb and they are: partiality, bias, favouritism and prejudice et al. Partiality is the unfair bias in favouring one over the other; It is also a particular likeness for, or fondness for someone or a group of people. It can also be defined as the practice of giving unfair preferential treatment to one person/group at the expense of the other.
As human beings we are not naturally inclined to be impartial. We have our ways of putting people in pigeonholes, in predetermined, stratified categories, ranking them by their looks, clothes, the kind of cars they drive, racial associations, status (social), personality, intelligence, wealth, power and maybe the kind of house they live in coupled with their kind of neighbourhood. The way we speak to our friends or church members stems from how compartmentalized we have decided to put them in. We become disrespectful to some because we have caged them as people without means and therefore should not be accommodated amongst the others.
The Church at Corinth had this problem because there was a divide between the poor and the rich. When it was time to bring food to gatherings for example, the poor ones didn’t eat from the table of the rich and vice versa; this blunder had to be highlighted and corrected by the Apostle. He encouraged them as children from the same Father to eat as though the food was prepared or made from the same kitchen. The intention was to reduce the prejudice and division between the rich and the poor in the Kingdom of God.
As it was among the Jews at that time, so it is today in the Church. Many do not respect spirituality but physicality. We tend to kowtow to people because of the things (riches) we see. The many people that occupy the front rows of most of our Churches today are people we have caged because we are biased based on how rich we think they are, how connected they are in the society or what position they occupy in the society and not how spiritual they are.
James, because of the fact that he was exposed to the Old Testament, couldn’t have written better because the New Testament had not been written. Thus, I am of the opinion that being partial will not affect our Faith in God, however, it is good to do what is right considering the point made earlier about making a good practice of not being partial to people around us else, we would be judging wrongly in doing so. How? You may ask, James said, “For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewellery, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?
Solomon said, “These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.”
He also said, “Showing partiality is never good, yet some will do wrong for a mere piece of bread.
Apostle Peter said, “I see very clearly that God shows no favouritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right.”
Finally Apostle Paul completes the puzzle when he said, “There will be trouble and calamity for everyone who keeps on doing what is evil—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. But there will be glory and honour and peace from God for all who do good—for the Jew first and also for the Gentile. For God does not show favouritism.”
Psychologically, favouritism may not be hurtful to the rich but it sure harms the poor and as such they may eventually stay away from the Church or the people of God and be hindered from listening to the message of the Gospel or doctrine as it were.
“The poor and honest man shall go through the streets—will the crowd go out to see him? A man shall wear a crown who is a perjurer—and will ye not rush out and clap your hands at him? Ye judge according to rank, and not according to character. Would God we all knew how to judge men, not according to the sight of our eyes, or the hearing of our ears, but according to the rightness of their characters.” – C H Spurgeon
Keep it right here and be refreshed!