“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” (James 2:1, ESV)
What would you say are the top three sins you struggle with? Lust? Greed? Anger? James hits on a sin that likely would not even make our top ten. He speaks of the sin of partiality. He appeals to those of the family of faith, imploring us to “show no partiality as we hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jas. 2:1).
What is this sin that slips under the radar for most of us? The word James uses is literally “face-taking.” The idea is showing favoritism based on outward appearance. In contrast, God shows no partiality (Rom. 2:11; Col. 3:25). No one will be treated contrary to his due.
When we hear of partiality, our minds might spring to biases and prejudices like racism where people are pigeonholed or treated a particular way because of the color of their skin. James, however, speaks to the partiality of position, with particular deference to those who are wealthy.
He paints a picture for us of what such deference might look like. “For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ while you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet” (Jas 2:2–3).
The picture James paints is especially egregious because the assembly of which he speaks is that of the fellowship of the saints, perhaps even an assembly of those gathered for worship. Here God brings us all to a level playing field as debtors to grace, yet we take it upon ourselves to discriminate.
“Heavenly Father, open my eyes to how I use others to exalt myself.”