Trey Colson is the Worship Director at Summit Church.
Don’t show partiality. James says that in chapter two. This is something I struggle with because I think it’s in our nature to gravitate toward things that we like, things that are comfortable, things that make us feel valuable or important. I’m partial to things like blueberry pie, bacon cheeseburgers, and cereal that turns regular milk into chocolate milk.
I’m talking about food, but James is talking about people. Showing favoritism and partiality toward one person over another. And if I’m being honest (and I’m trying really hard), I have a hard time with what he’s saying. It’s not that I disagree with him—I’m fully on board. The picture he paints of treating a rich, well-dressed person better than a poor person in poor clothing gets me riled up. That’s not fair and it’s not how Jesus would’ve acted and it’s sinful and yes, I agree. Uh huh uh huh uh huh.
But I do it all the time.
It’s easy to gravitate toward people and relationships and situations that make me feel important and valuable and valued. People who are encouraging and/or curious and/or willing to laugh at one of my jokes every now and then are people I’m gonna want to spend more time with. And there’s nothing wrong with that, I don’t think. We need to be built up and encouraged and cheered on by others. But when I chase after it and focus on relationships for that purpose, I’m doing it wrong. It’ll eventually damage my relationship with God and with others who matter to God.
There’s also that thing people say: “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” I remember my mom telling me that when I was job-hunting just out of college, and I’ve found it to be true a lot of the time. Some significant opportunities have come my way primarily because someone vouched for me, and I’m grateful for it. But I get into trouble when I’m focused solely on what I stand to gain from a person, relationship, or situation. I’m likely to overlook the needs of others around me, maybe even the person right in front of me, and especially those who don’t have anything to offer in return. And that’s sinful, James says.
It feels to me that a lot of what James talks about has to do with where I put my focus and in what/whom I place my faith. This showing partiality is a symptom of being focused on myself and the things I can get out of relationships. If I can get my attention off me and onto God, I’ll be more aware of what he’s doing, where he’s pointing, and the good he can do in and around and through me. And that’s way more fulfilling. Even more fulfilling than a burger or slice of pie a la mode. I think.
How did James 2 impact you today?
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