James 2:1 – My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.
Favoritism was a problem in the early church, especially as it related to social class. It is a basic human problem that has followed man down through the centuries. As a pastor, one of the complaints I would hear from individuals is that people in the congregation are “cliquish.” As believers, we must guard ourselves from isolating others. We are called to be a family built together in community. Jesus told His disciples, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
It is not wrong to have some people you count as favorite friends. There is a difference between “favorite” and “favoritism.” Favorite could relate to an individual’s personality, their upbeat attitude, and general likability. Favoritism addresses paying more attention to one person over another where there should be equality. Paul experienced this with Peter as recorded in Galatians 2. Peter knew that the Lord had accepted the Gentiles as equal to the Jews. Peter was fellowshipping with a number of Gentiles until a group of Jewish believers arrived from Jerusalem. Peter separated himself from the Gentiles to gain favor with the Jewish brothers. Paul, observing this, rebuked Peter openly for his hypocrisy.
Part of our development as followers of Christ is to learn how to accept others in spite of personality oddities or even distasteful language. Love, acceptance, and forgiveness are goals for each believer. The Lord wants to equip His church to be truly Christian in a non-Christian world. Many attitudes held by church-going people are counter to the attitude of Christ who “so loved the world that He laid down His life for the most offensive among us.
In this Christmas season, let us not only remember the babe in a manger, but the risen Christ who desires all men be saved. “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Make sure, when you are out in the world shopping or just enjoying the season, that your life gives witness of the risen Christ.
Father, I pray to be filled with the love of Christ during this Christmas season. Especially help me in regard to those who are not filled with Your love. Help me grow toward others in a way that is pleasing to You. I pray for the Holy Spirit to remove all manner of favoritism from my life. Help me be respectful toward all, even those who do not respect me.