Speaking to the Soul – August 29


My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favour some people over others? James 2:1

It’s hard for us to imagine the social tensions with which the early Church had to live. The majority of Christians were poor, and many of them were slaves. Imagine the potential difficulties if a slave owner then became part of the church, too. Slaves had no legal rights. How would a slave master worship alongside someone that he ‘owned’? James was only too well aware of these challenges, and was concerned that there shouldn’t be any hint of favouritism in the Church. The Church should be a place where all human distinctions fall away and everyone is equally loved and precious.

James then gives an agonising illustration of how badly things could go. Two people walk into a Christian meeting. One is very obviously wealthy and the other is just as obviously poor. The rich person is immediately cared for and given a good seat at the front. The poor person is given a bad seat, or even told to sit on the floor. Nothing could more flagrantly fly in the face of a God who opposes all discrimination. James was clearly livid. This should never happen, pure and simple.

We may assume that this kind of favouritism doesn’t happen these days. But you can be sure that the sin of favouritism hasn’t gone away.

Ask yourself how warmly someone who is homeless would be welcomed in your church. What about the noisy teenagers? Those with poor mental health? Then reflect on the way in which you welcome your friends and the people who look like you. We are all tempted to treat people differently and, whenever we feel that temptation, we need to remind ourselves that we serve a God who never does that. He wants us to follow his example.

In what way are you tempted to show favouritism and how could you overcome it?

Loving God, thank you that you never show favouritism. Help me to follow your example more closely. Amen