“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 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,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?” (James 2:1–7)
I think we need to hear the warnings in this passage. In today’s church, it’s not always money that we give deference to. Sometimes it’s training or occupation… though these are often closely connected with money.
Here’s the test: which potential new members get celebrated in your congregation? Are you jumping up and down about the recovering addict who is on food stamps? The single mom with no regular job? Do you look at the elderly widow and say, “What a great addition to our congregation”?
How about the lawyer with a stable marriage and three well-developed kids? The young articulate school teacher? The former missionary who is a talented song leader and Bible class teacher?
Does your church show partiality?
Do I show partiality?
Yes, I do. More often than I care to admit.