Christianity 201

December 7, 2020

Favoritism Forbidden

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:34 pm
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NIV.James.2.1 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ 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?

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

I’ve seen it at Christian concerts and apparently it’s become increasingly common in celebrity-driven megachurches: VIP sections for the well-heeled or well-known.

Just as the author of a Christian book might seek the endorsements of Christian authors or pastors to include on the inside page of their latest title, I suppose in some respects having the rich and the famous on the front row might be seen as an endorsement of the church or pastor. It lends credibility to the message.

The problem there is that the message of Jesus is powerful and authoritative. It requires no additional endorsement. Besides, if it contains what my friends in the South call “a heapin’ helpin'” of scripture* then we have this promise:

TPT.Hebrews.4.12 For we have the living Word of God, which is full of energy, and it pierces more sharply than a two-edged sword. It will even penetrate to the very core of our being where soul and spirit, bone and marrow meet! It interprets and reveals the true thoughts and secret motives of our hearts.

Jesus didn’t need the endorsement of key leaders, in fact, he seemed to go out of his way to discourage their future attendance (unless, of course, they took his message to heart.) James continues,

NIV.James.2.5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?

But of course, this isn’t a passage about seeking endorsement or credibility, it’s a passage about showing favoritism. The guy with the expensive wardrobe and his like are being given the best seats in the house. Remember, this is before the era of ticketed concerts, or, as we’ve seen in the last decade, ticketed arena events featuring rock star preachers. The people James has in view aren’t getting their front row reclining seats on the basis of a huge donation — it doesn’t say key donors — though perhaps on the basis of a donation hoped for.

It’s a simple case of putting one person above another.

That’s just wrong.


*I don’t actually have friends in the South, and according to a popular search engine, nobody has ever said that phrase before. However, it’s still a good rule in preaching to include more that’s Bible and less that’s you.

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