Favoritism is a problem in every society and every culture. Favoritism even spreads to the church sometimes. God makes it clear to us in the opening line of James 2 where He stands on this issue:
- Never show favoritism (1).
The SUBTLE SIN of FAVORITISM
Favoritism is often an overlooked sin because it can be hidden behind people’s “good intentions”. That is why James addresses the issue and presents three reasons why favoritism should have no room in the Christian’s life.
- Favoritism reveals a judgmental heart (2-4).
- Favoritism contradicts God’s welcoming heart (5-7).
- Favoritism breaks the command to love your neighbor (8-11).
Finding FREEDOM from FAVORITISM
What is the opposite of showing favoritism? According to James, it is mercy. What does unconditional mercy look like in your daily life?
- Show mercy to everyone (12-13).
1. In your personal life, who have you been tempted to dismiss or look down upon (could be a specific person or a group)? On the other hand, are you guilty of favoring particular people or types of people? What are the reasons behind this partiality (past experiences, personal motives, upbringing, comfort level, etc.)?
2. Suppose the scene described in verses 2–3 were to happen this week in our church. What do you think would happen? How would we treat the two people differently?
3. What does God think about wealth and poverty, about rich people and poor people? Use the James 2:1-13 passage as well as Deuteronomy 10:17-19; Luke 6:20-26; and 1 Corinthians 1:26-29.
4. Why do you think God seems to have a special concern for the weak and the vulnerable? How does the message of Christ’s death and resurrection (i.e., the Gospel) contribute to your understanding of God’s heart for people?
5. Why does James include verses 8-13, a passage about the Law, in this discussion of favoritism? How do these verses advance his point? See Matthew 5:21-26, 48 and Galatians 5:14.
Applying the Word to Life
6. What specific thing will you do this week to demonstrate mercy to someone you would normally avoid, exclude, or dismiss?
7. Do you see this favoritism at work in our own church in any way? Are we as a body guilty of favoring certain types or classes of people over others? Are there things we say or do that unintentionally demonstrate favoritism (prejudice can be subconscious!)