Playing Favorites

James 2:1: “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.”

I was the baby in the family, the last born. My brother and sister like to tell me that I was mom and dad’s favorite. I didn’t see it. They like to tell a few stories to prove this, I don’t remember any of it. As one story goes, my brother and sister were begging our parents for a dog and my dad said “If I’m going to buy a dog for anyone, it would be Scott.” They also tell a story about siblings fighting in the backyard and one of my parents yelling out to the backyard, “Just give Scott whatever he wants!” If these stories are true, I must have been the favorite. 🙂

Back to James. If you remember, James was the half-brother of Jesus. How would you have liked to be Jesus’ brother? While I may think I am the perfect son, Jesus actually was a perfect son. How annoying would it have been to always have to defer to your older brother? I’m not saying Joseph and Mary played favorites, but of all the parents in the history of the world, they could have!

This verse sets up James’ dialogue about the rich and poor, which we will get to later. I don’t want to skip this short but important verse. We must first see how Jesus is described.

Jesus is described as Glorious, Lord, and Christ.

Glorious is splendor or brightness, the kingly majesty of the Messiah, the absolutely perfect inward or personal excellency of Christ. It is what makes us stand in awe of Christ.

Lord is owner, ruler, and sovereign. He reigns supreme.

Christ is the anointed one, the Messiah. The savior of the world!

We must be believers in this glorious Lord and Messiah. If so, we are not to show favoritism. Favoritism is “Making a value judgement on another person based upon unbiblical criteria.” This is not a like or dislike or simply a preference issue, but a value judgement. If you show favoritism, you are saying one person has more value than another person. You may disagree with a persons actions or thoughts but you are not to treat the as having less value or worth than anybody else. Equality applies to a person’s worth, there is no such thing as equality of ideas-some ideas are just plain stupid and wrong.

As Christians, we can be pretty judgmental people. James teaches us that this ought not to be. You can’t be a follower of Christ and a snob at the same time.


Some questions to consider:

-Where are you showing favoritism towards a person over another?

-Would others call you a snob?

-Where are you promoting your preferences for something over the value of another person?

-Do you think of Jesus as being glorious?


Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

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