James starts with a pretty simple statement: no favoritism. Then he illustrates it. The same example can be used for us; what if our favorite author, band, or athlete walked into church? What would we do? My current favorite NFL player (of those remaining) is Russel Wilson. He’s a Christian guy with great character. If he walked in the door of Sunday, you better believe I’d be over there shaking his hand in a second. The question we have to ask ourselves, would we do that if a homeless guy walked in? Even if he hadn’t showered in weeks and had whiskey on his breathe? What about a group of guys tattooed head to toe? Would we all be fighting to be first in line to welcome them?
Its not shocking that favoritism is an issue for us. We like being around funny people, attractive people and people who can afford to pick up the tab. James probably wasn’t surprised either, but he’s firmly against it. He goes on the offensive first in verse 5. He essentially says, even the guy who is broke can have infinite spiritual riches; you can’t tell that by a mans clothes. His second argument is stronger than first. James points to the “royal law” as the standard. He says that even if we disobey God in a small way, like favoritism, we still have broken God’s law. The idea is that God isn’t sitting in heaven dismissing little white lies and favoritism as if these are insignificant. Quite the opposite. God takes all disobedience seriously.
In light of this passage, reflect on these questions: Do I see people the way that Christ sees people? Do I treasure other people because of what they can offer me or because they’re created in the image of God?