We have all heard the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
Most would agree that is good counsel. We know there is more to a person than meets the eye.
In James 2:1, James says, “Don’t show favoritism.” He is warning us not to pass judgment on people based on external appearances. In our culture, that could mean everything from how they look to what they drive to the color of their skin. The list of possibilities could go on and on.
God views all people equally. He expects us to do the same. We are all people created in the image of God. We are to treat people fairly. That makes sense. That’s how we want our children and grandchildren to behave, even if it is not how we always behave as adults.
James then goes on to illustrate his point: “Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in.” Use your imagination. Suppose two people walk in the church. The first guy comes in, and he has it going on. He’s got the clothes and the attitude to go with it. He is sharp. He appears to be successful. Everyone is impressed.
But then right behind him comes a guy who is shabbily dressed. Nobody is accusing him of having it all together. He is dirty, and if he smells like he looks, it won’t be good. He’s obviously not at his best. He’s apparently just barely getting by. What would you do? How would you respond?
James says, “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,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” James wants us to know that showing partiality to the “haves” while ignoring the “have nots” is not only wrong, it is sinful.
What’s wrong with judging a person by his or her appearance anyway? Doesn’t everybody do it? The problem is that if we are going to say, “Jesus is our Lord,” then we must live as Christ requires. We must abide by his Word and obey his instruction.
To live as Christ wants us to live means showing no favoritism and loving all people. According to James, we should always treat people fairly and without favoritism. More on this topic next time.
You may read Steve Greene’s blog at pastorgreene.wordpress.com or you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.