In this very practical writing, James provides some superb advice on how to live wise as a follower of Jesus Christ. He spent the first chapter dealing with having the proper perspective of trials and the importance of scripture in our daily struggles. James had just challenged his readers to not only be hearers of the word, but also doers. He will spend the remainder of the book writing practical ways a believer can practice their faith. In the first part of chapter 2, James addresses a very important issue within the church – favoritism. James illustrates his teaching by writing “if there should come into your assembly [synagogue] a man with gold rings, and fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes…have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” (2:2-4). I believe every person can relate with this situation because we are constantly put in a position where we must judge who is most important. Most of the time we base our decision on the outward appearance of a person and maybe even the status gained by speaking to the richer or more well-known individual. James was very concerned that the church was becoming obsessed with only those who brought status to the gathering instead of treating everyone the same. God’s perspective is that He sees everyone as equal and therefore deserving of the same treatment as the rich. James reminds his readers that “God has chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him…” (2:5). There was a genuine concern on the heart of James that the church would cater to the rich while ignoring the needs of the poor. The rich and the poor alike should be treated the same. James continues by reminding the church of the second great commandment – “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (2:8). The church should be consumed with meeting the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of all people instead of becoming judges of who is worthy of their attention. When a person shows partiality, they “commit sin” (2:9). This is plain speak. Showing favoritism is always sin because you are placing value on one person while minimizing the importance of another. Carefully examine your life and see if you are showing partiality.
Dear God, help me to treat all people the same. May I be interested in the needs of all people, not just the ones whom the world upholds as worthy. Help me to love others as You have loved me.