My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. (James 2:1)
Bigotry and prejudice is both an attitude and an action. You either see yourself as superior to someone else or someone else is inferior to you, and this mindset is going to lead you to treat them in a bigoted, prejudicial fashion. Everybody likes to say for the most part, “I’m not a bigot” and pretend that we are always totally objective, but the truth of the matter is we are not, even though we want to be.
This is not a problem just for the modern church. The early church dealt with the problem of prejudice and the bias of bigotry a thousand years ago. James, the brother of Jesus, actually dealt with this problem in a book he wrote by his name.
Today, when we think of bigotry we think primarily in terms of race, but in this particular case this was the prejudice of affluence and achievement, not of ancestry, but as you are going to see what James said to the church applies perfectly to any kind of bigotry including racial prejudice and racism. James does us a huge favor. He shares with us, not just what a bigot is, but what a bigot does and why any form of bigotry is not a misdemeanor, but it is a felony in the eyes of God.
We’ve all heard the saying “Never judge a book by its cover.” What James is saying in today’s key passage is that if you truly have faith in Jesus, you will never judge a human being by what you see on the outside. In fact, if every human being was a book, every book would have the same thing on the cover. It would say, “Made in the image of God.”
If you judge people by first impressions or if you judge people just by what you see on the outside whether it is the color of their skin or how they are dressed or how they look, the vast majority of time you are going to be sadly mistaken, and you are going to make a tremendous misjudgment.
Dr. Martin Luther King said it in his most eloquent way, “We must never forget this as a nation: there are no gradations in the image of God. Every man from a treble-white to a bass-black is significant on God’s keyboard precisely because every man is made in the image of God. One day we will learn that. We will know one day that God made us to live together as brothers and to respect the dignity and worth of every man.” May we follow his advice, along with the applying the words of James, and choose to see people the way God sees them.
Dear Father, I want to see people the way you see them. Help me not to judge a book by its cover, but to take the time to see what’s on the inside of the book. You are so much more concerned with what’s in each of our hearts. Please help me to do the same. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Topics: Race Relations