Favoritism & Mercy
Favoritism and Mercy
Many people don’t know that favoring someone over somebody else is a sin. Have you ever walked past a homeless man and not give them money, chat with them or help them in any way that you can, because they are homeless?
If I ever see homeless people I always stop to say “hi”. Homelessness is part of my story. I know how it feels to be rejected by others. I know how it feels to be harassed by the police at 2 am because you’re sleeping in your car. I know the feeling of currently serving in the military and the security officer of a church tells you to find another parking lot to sleep in. How do you think I feel now that I pledge to defend this country if something goes down, but my own country, my own church won’t pledge to help me out when life just didn’t work out the way I planned? I know how it feels to go hungry, I know how it feels, because I have been there and done that.
Why is favoritism a sin?
- You become a judge
- You discriminate
- It creates evil thoughts
“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2:1-4)
The meeting that James is referring to is a church or a bible study. Apparently, for some reason the earlier christians would favor the rich people over poor people, giving them the best of everything, maybe hoping that they can receive money or favor right back from these richer Christians.
A lot of churches grow and get big and they hire from within and only those who financially supported their ministry get leadership roles. One church I went to voted for leaders a few years back, I think they needed to get deacons. I remember the pastor said that they would check to make sure people have been “ faithfully giving” before allowing them to serve in leadership roles in the church.
When I read what James said and I hear and see what this church said and did, we see a huge gap. The reason that churches do this is not so much on the favoring side of things. In seminary, my professors talked about how you want to make sure that people who serve on staff in your church are managing God’s money well in their own personal life and the way that most churches check this is by looking at if they give faithfully towards that body. The way someone manages their checkbook, nowadays it’s your facebook, both can say a lot about the way they manage their walk with God. I don’t like the way that churches check people’s financial faithfulness. I give towards 3 or 4 ministries throughout the year. I even have my own ministry online that I devote time and money into.
Is it wrong for churches to operate that way?
I don’t think so. I think it’s a great way to manage a church. I think it’s wrong though for a church to completely forget about the poor struggling people in the church and in the community.
This same church, named “First Baptist” then, now called “Church at the Fields”, located in Carrollton, TX, has a ministry called “Friendship House”. This ministry helps struggling families in the community with basic needs. I don’t know much about this ministry, I think they help with food and other things of that nature. They also partnered with a public elementary school and currently they provide lunches to the kids that might go home hungry on the weekends. This is a huge “Family Friendly” church. If you are in the DFW area, bring your kids by, they have different sporting teams and games that your kids can come and play on and they use this as an outreach for the kids. I was part of this church growing up and gave my life to God at this church.
A major point I want to get out is that this church doesn’t just help its own members, it goes out to the city around it and finds ways to serve people who might never come to God. It serves little kids who don’t even know what the ‘church at the fields’ is. This right here is what you call a church that doesn’t favor.
Favoritism is not part of the Christian walk with God. God doesn’t walk that way. In fact, he chose the rejected people of this world to be his people. He chose the people this world didn’t favor. He chose us to follow him and be his people. We should follow his example, and favor no one. We must love everyone the same, because God loves everyone the same no matter if they come to Christ or didn’t come to Christ. We are all called to do the same.
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong? (James 2:5-7)
We also need to understand that this is what can make us break the heart of the law and cause us to become lawbreakers. Many of you may say, “Jesus saves me”, but you must understand that you can’t talk the talk without a walk.
I wrote the above paragraph 10 years ago. James tells this church, “you have dishonored the poor”. Just let those four words soak into your heart as you think about each homeless person you drove by. You had the ability to help, but chose not to.
“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” (James 2:8-11)
How will you and I, as Christians, bring people to Christ, if we don’t live out what we say we believe? Sure we may have faith. Okay, but how can people see our faith?
James takes a sharp turn from favoritism to lawbreaker and then starts talking about adultery and murder. Why? James is only trying to make a point that favoritism is a sin and we need to turn away from that sin and love our neighbors. Our neighbor is that guy that got left for dead in Luke 10.
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:12-13)
In the above verse it says “speak and act”. See that brings me back to my next point. Don’t just say what you believe, live out what you believe, so that people will know that you’re not a joke and they take the church more seriously.
Warning, “judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful.” When Jesus comes back to the world and the “Day of Judgment” comes, everyone will answer for what they have said and done. Then, judgment will be given only to those who have not been merciful and mercy to those who have not judged. Favoring somebody is judging.
Know God Deeper
Do you really want to know God more deeply? Forgive those who have wrong you. Show love to those who have no way to show love back to you to the extent that you can show love to them.
Make a Payment
God came down from heaven, died on the cross and paid the price for our sins. I could never repay God. The payment is too much for me to pay back. God knew before he made the payment and he still came and made that payment. It changed my life. It can change your life too.
How many times do we pass up the chance to make a payment for someone else’s benefit? Payment of time, money, effort, make a payment today, it might just change someone’s life! Want to know God Deeper? Make a Payment.
Thank You for Reading
This was a revision of an old book I wrote when I first came to know the love of God. I went to seminary. I studied at Christian Leaders Ins. for the past 8 years. Lately, this book has been on my heart to rewrite. I didn’t write it strong enough 10 years ago, because I was still learning what the bible was teaching. Somewhat, writing this book was for my own growth. Being able to see all that I changed and expanded on in this has been a pretty neat adventure the last few months.