My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, 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? Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? (James 2:1-5)
In many ways, partiality and prejudice are very similar; yet there is also some major differences. To be prejudice means to ‘pre-judge’ someone or something. If we would be honest, most of us ‘pre-judge’ other people. Many think that being prejudice applies only to the prejudice shown between races; but we can just as easily be guilty of pre-judging people based upon their age, social standing, sex, size, appearance, occupation, hobbies, what part of the country they live, etc. Anytime anyone is different from us, we have the tendency to be a bit prejudice.
James also addresses another problem; the issue of ‘partiality’. In specific, James is speaking against the sin of showing favoritism of those who have money over those who don’t. Few of us would want to admit that this is a problem that pertains to us; yet most of us have the tendency to do just that. I remember learning many years ago in Sociology, that almost everyone considers themselves to be in a social class a little bit above where they actually are. There is something in our nature that makes us want to be a little better. On the one hand, there’s nothing wrong with striving to do better, as long as we don’t begin to think that we are ‘above’ other people.
In one verse, James shows us why this is so wrong – “Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?” We must never forget that it’s only by God’s grace that any of us have any hope of inheriting the Kingdom. Money, clothing, social standing or even occupation will not merit eternity in heaven. According to scripture, favoritism is the exact opposite of grace. If there ever was a place on this earth where partiality and favoritism should not be found, it should be among the children of God.