This is pretty much a verbalization of something that has troubled me today, if it means anything to you, great, if it doesn’t that is great too, I just have this urgency to share and “put it out there”.
Does it work like this for you; just randomly going about your day, and then suddenly you get this gnawing feeling deep inside your spirit. It is hard to put words to the feeling, it’s a mix of emotions and compelling thoughts that keep your attention until you confront it. I am going to try and explain what I mean, and so bear with me for a moment.
Today I was reading in the book of James. Actually quite enjoyed my time in the word, but then a pattern began to surface and I found myself feeling drawn to a couple of the scriptures which I would like to share with you.
James 2:1-4 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but you 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?
I began to ponder this section of scripture; It is wrong to show favoritism based on external circumstances, whether it is favoritism to the rich or to the poor. It is normal for the world to honor the rich and famous, because riches and fame are things for which those of the world strive. As Christians, we should have different values. We should esteem individuals for different reasons than the world does.
When I see a poor man, or someone going through a bad stretch in their life is it right for me to judge this person based on the external appearance? Surely not. Many times we say the famous “but for the grace of God there go I…” indeed. But what if we look below the level of skin, go a little deeper and understand that there is a heart inside this individual, they perhaps didn’t ask for the battering ram of hardship to knock them out of the loop of success in this life. When I look at someone in this situation, what is on my agenda? Will I judge unfairly out of my own critical nature, or will I try to view the person through the lens of Christ, and have compassion?
2 Corinthians 5:16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
It is extremely easy to discriminate not only between the rich and poor but amongst those of differing faiths. This is a challenge. Discrimination is a damaging sin to the cause of Christendom because of its poor testimony to the world, and those looking on at our testimony. The rich and the poor have the same need in common – Christ as their savior. So, if I show partiality then someone wins and someone loses. The math is easy to figure out.
So how do we walk in such a way as to not show partiality, discrimination and favoritism? Paul gives us the perfect example:
1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings.
The reward in applying this portion of scripture lies in being partakers of the blessings in the gospel. Lord help us the next time an opportunity to share your word arises, may I not show favoritism based on the individual’s physical appearance or position in life, neither let me judge their belief and faith, but help me to look through your lens with a right attitude so that I may win over a soul for you.