How do you act when someone of poverty comes into the church? What are your first thoughts? Is it, “They’re only here because they want something?” Is it, “All they want is a hand out and then you will never see them again?” I know that there are people out there looking for sympathy hoping they may be able to use the church as a welfare system. But I am not speaking about those people. I am speaking about those who are genuinely in need of help.
God is in the “people” business and as His children we are in the family business. If we have a problem with people – any and all people – then we have a problem with God and we will have trouble hearing and doing what He says. Furthermore, the way we treat people indicates what we really believe about God. Let me share something with you, “A first-class mistake is to treat anyone as a second-class person.”
Do we have any options in how we treat other people? What does James say about godless favoritism? What does he say about mercy and judgment? In the first chapter of the Book James, he covers the issues of trials and temptations. In chapter two, he turns his attention to one of the major themes of the book that being of wealth and charity. James issues a stern warning against showing favoritism to the wealthy and treating the poor with disdain. This type of behavior was the standard of the surrounding culture of James’ day which ignored the commands of the gospel.
Every Christian should know that the world is looking for evidence that God is merciful. Being people who have experienced mercy and who expresses mercy will catch their attention. God wants His people to demonstrate pure religion by treating all people with dignity, grace and mercy. We are to cast off the sin of favoritism and put on the mercy of God. Remember ---
Favoritism is inconsistent with Christ’s teachings.
Favoritism finds its roots in evil thoughts.
Favoritism insults people which are made in God’s image.
Favoritism is a product of selfishness.
Favoritism runs contrary to the biblical definition of love.
Favoritism shows no mercy to those that are less fortunate.
Favoritism is hypocritical.
Last but most important, Favoritism is sin.
The only option for overcoming godless favoritism and the judgment of others is mercy and love. It is the only way!
Keith Stewart is pastor of Morriston Baptist Church.