Favoritism Forbidden

Bob RoaneLoving and Trusting God

The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart….Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like Him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us. (1 Samuel 16:7; Colossians 3:9-12)

Invisible at Church

Richard DeHaan (1923-2002) told of a man who attended a church regularly for months, but was always ignored. No one knew who he was, and he looked out-of-place with his shabby clothes. So no one ever spoke to him. One Sunday in church, he intentionally left his hat on. As the pastor stood on the platform and looked out at the congregation, he noticed the man with the hat right away. So he called up an usher and told him to ask the ignored man to remove his hat. When the usher spoke to the man, he responded with a big smile and said, “I thought that would do it. I have attended here for 6 months, and you are the first person who has ever talked to me.”1

In the family of Jesus’ followers, partiality, prejudice, cronyism, and favoritism are forbidden. Those who have been born again by God the Holy Spirit for faith in Christ are all equals in God’s sight. And that equality should shape the way we treat all other believers.

Equal Down at the Cross

Here is part of a song by The Kry, a Christian rock group from Quebec, Canada:

Down at the cross come and leave your pride. Lay everything at Christ’s feet.
For all of us He was willing to die, Even when we were weak.
When we were still without strength, When we were set in our ways,
When we were filled with hatred for Him, Still He died for you and I.

Let not the wise person boast in their wisdom.
Let not the strong person boast in their strength.
Let not the rich person boast in their riches.
For all believers are equal down at the cross.2

Christians must be courteous, generous, hospitable, and respectful to all other believers, regardless of their sex, race, social status, appearance, denomination, or past history. When we show favoritism, we sin against our brothers and sisters, people whom God the Father loves, for whom Christ died and rose, and who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We will be together with them forever in Heaven. So Lord, make us gracious to everyone and help us avoid the sin of partiality.

Various Reasons for Favoritism

Partiality and treating some people as less important than others is not only hurtful and disrespectful to them. The Lord hates it. In James 2:9-10, the Holy Spirit says: “If you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” Showing partiality disrespects the Lord Jesus who made and saved them other Christians. Favoritism goes against God’s character and command. Because discrimination is sin, there is no room for it in the hearts, minds, and lives of Christ’s people.

Here are some ways we are tempted to show favoritism:

We can over-value people who seem We can under-value people who seem
Important, rich, beautiful, educated Insignificant, poor, ordinary, un-educated
Winners, insiders, successful, on top, somebodies Losers, outsiders, sufferers, on the bottom, nobodies
Advantageous and profitable to us Not advantageous or profitable to us
High status, talented, healthy, homeowners Low status, less talented, unhealthy, homeless
Majority racial, ethnic, religious group Minority racial, ethnic, religious group
Old guard, charter members, old boy network Newcomers, “foreigners”
Desirable physical qualities (tall, trim, color) Less desirable qualities (short, overweight, color)
Material prosperity, top dogs, higher “class” Material adversity, underdogs, lower “class”
People who are like us People who are unlike us

Favoritism Is Contrary to God’s Character

Scripture says: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes….God does not show favoritism….Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.”3

Justice means doing what is right. The Lord’s character is perfectly holy, just, and righteous. The Bible says: “God will bring into judgment both the righteous and the wicked, for there will be a time for every activity, a time to judge every deed….The Lord will judge His people.”4 Sin is a crime against God, and He demands the death penalty and eternal separation from Him for sinning.5 Even the sin of favoritism.

But God graciously sent Jesus His Son to earth to pay sin’s penalty for His followers and bring eternal salvation to all who trust and obey Christ.6 Repenting and returning sinners are justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that came by Jesus. Not by anything we are, or have, or have done. So there is no place for showing favorites among God’s people. The Lord is gracious to us, so we must treat others graciously and fairly.7 Forgetting that we are needy before the Lord can make us look down on others.

God is the just and mighty One…who shows no partiality to princes and does not favor the rich over the poor, for they are all the work of His hands. (Job 34:17-19)

To be continued

Notes (various Bible translations): 1 Our Daily Bread, date unknown.     2 “Down At The Cross,” from the album “What About Now” (1996).     3 Deut 10:17; Acts 10:34; Rom 2:11; Eph 6:9; Col 3:25.     4 Ecc 3:17; Heb 10:30.     5 Rom 1:18-32, 2:5, 3:23.     6 Rom 5:8-11, 6:23; John 1:12, 3:15-17, 20:31.     7 Rom 3:23-25.