Are You a Respecter of Persons? James 2: 1 & 8

“My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism” James 2:1.
” If, however, you are fulfilling the [i]royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well” James 2:8.

I attended a church which hired an interim pastor from a successful congregation in a neighboring village. This man could preach a great sermon, and his church prospered. In many ways, was a good Christian leader. However, in my life, he did more to stall my Christian growth than grow it.

The prelude to his sermons or the illustrations in it always contained ungodly boasting. “We have doctors in our church. Lawyers.” He would straighten his posture. His stance would widen to better awe us with the prominence of these people.

Our little flock boasted a few teachers. The rest of the members worked in delis or as laborers or farmers. No one to boast about. 

Over time, this man blustered about his boat, his home, his swimming pool, his daughters and his son, I felt smaller and smaller. His good sermons became tainted, and to this day, twenty years later, I have no respect for him or his accomplishments.

Attitudes like his are infectious. Throughout his tenure, our congregations mingled. Never did his church make me feel at home, except for one time. 

My daughter and I attended their New Year’s Eve party. We worshiped, heard a good message and then adjoined to the fellowship hall. With plates full of goodies, we found two seats at the end of crowded table. We assumed we’d chat between ourselves, enjoy our meal and leave.

Suddenly, the lady next to me started a conversation. Another person chimed in. A third woman asked about our lives. For some reason, the cool, as in indifferent, congregation accepted us.

Then I discovered the reason. Three seats down, sat the braggadocious pastor. These congregants who never knew we existed had no choice but to note our presence, to acknowledge us.

As an outsider, I can tell you, Christians like these do more harm to the gospel than help. I liked my own little church, loved the dear friends there, so fortunately this interim group did nothing to shake my faith. It did, however, create a distaste for this man’s teaching, and an unease in attending church and an aversion to ever recommend the interim pastor’s home church–even now, long after he moved on to better things. MUCH better things.

Today I belong to a congregation filled with multifarious individuals–those with cognitive disabilities, prison records, drug addictions. We have engineers, school teachers, legislators, professors and grocery clerks. Doctors and lawyers and dentists and rich and poor all populate the group. 

As a newcomer to the community, I never know with whom I’m speaking. Because of the pastor’s wholehearted acceptance of everyone and consequently my church family’s love for all, my life is enriched in too many ways to share.

The end effect is a tremendous growth in my faith, my love of Jesus and my desire to share the gospel with others.

Do you envy those who prosper? Do you try to climb the social ladder? Read James 2. It can change your life.

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  1. And we are blessed to belong to churches like that. When we moved to TN, we looked for a congregation that had every demographic. God loves us equally.

  2. There are many examples in Scripture of the destruction favoritism does to families and the family of God is no exception.

    I live in a small town surrounded by farms and oilfields. Our church is made up of every profession and social level you can think of. We might be as varied as we can be but we have one thing in common – we love God!

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