My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, you must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old 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 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? But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. James 2:1-4, 9 (NIV)
These scriptures really hit home for me. I think if we are honest, we can admit that we have either shown favoritism by judging someone based on how they look or act. I have endeavored to love people without conditions, but even with intentionality, I still fall short. There are moments when judgment rises in my heart, or I show favoritism to someone because of his or her appearance or because of their last name. Personally, I know what the eye of judgment looks like—it’s terrible when you feel like you are not enough. I don’t want to make anyone feel less than worthy or insignificant. Jesus has never made anyone feel unworthy, but loved and accepted.
The Bible is very clear; it teaches that showing favoritism is a sin. When we treat someone who is reclusive and poorly dressed differently than someone who looks affluent and well educated, then we have exhibited favoritism. It takes time and great effort to make someone feel loved, welcomed, and worthy.
My constant prayer is, “Lord, help me to love how You love.” Every person in this world, regardless of how they treat me, is ardently loved by God, and if I do not reach them with God’s love, then they may never make it to heaven.
Mother Teresa put it very plainly, she said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
Another quote I love is by Earl Nightingale; he said, “When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.” Wow! What a powerful statement.
If judgment rises in your heart, ask these questions:
- “What do my eyes perceive?” If you are looking at a person and judgment rises in your heart, instead of love, what do your eyes perceive? Instead of seeing a person made in the image of God, you see their sin, their attire, their lifestyle, their religion, their culture, or maybe their complete disregard for personal hygiene. Pray that God would help you see their soul in eternity, just as He does.
- “What does God see?”If you look at that person through the lens of God Almighty, you will see someone He died for and loves unconditionally. He sees someone who may go to hell if you do not reach for his or her soul. So we must stand in the gap and love them regardless of whom they are and where they have been.
- “Who am I to judge someone else?”Galatians 6:1 encourages us to restore people who have fallen down spiritually. We need to pray God would trust us enough to restore a soul. Go up to them and say, “I just wanted to let you know that I love you and that I’m here for you. Would you like to get together for coffee with me sometime this week? I know you’re beating yourself up over this situation, but everyone messes up, let’s pray that God strengthens you and encourages you. I love you.” The next part of this scripture says, “Considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” We need to consider ourselves in the same fallen situation because we are flesh and if we don’t keep our flesh under subjection, there are no limits that it could exceed.
The next time a guest walks in to your church, instead of going up to your close friend to catch up, maybe take some time to get to know the stranger in your midst. Yes, they may seem standoffish, but wouldn’t you be quiet if you were in a new place? Just think about how brave they are to go to a place where they do not know anyone. Your indifference to their appearance, your warm smile, and your genuine, Christ-like love can make an eternal impact on their soul.
Prayer: Lord, forgive me if I have recently shown favoritism toward anyone. I desire to love people, regardless of their wealth, appearance, pedigree, or attitude. Give me a heart after Yours, Jesus.