James, as I’m sure you have noticed, finishes his thought on one thing and then goes right to another. Next on James’ list is the evil of judging people based upon bias or prejudice.
There are reasons why we treat people different: a person in jail, disciplining children, knowing someone is in their final days, and so on. So, there are good reasons why people are treated differently. There are also bad reasons and that is the focus of our post.
Chapter 2:1-9 Respect of Persons
James starts with a statement of fact… you cannot please God when you treat people differently because of material possessions. Prejudice, in any form, is a sad and destructive practice. James will use rich and poor as an example to make his point so we will confine our study to this this form of prejudice.
There is a big difference in how we evaluate people and how God looks at them. When we see someone dressed in expensive clothing, perhaps driving a high priced car, we make a judgment of them based upon what our eyes see. Now if we saw another who was dressed very poorly and driving a junk mobile we also form an opinion. This is not how God looks us; God looks on our heart to evaluate us. If we think one is better than another because of what they wear or what they are driving then we, according to scripture, have sinned.
Let’s take a trip back to school? What group did you belong to? (Cheerleaders, sports teams, the bullies, the thinkers, band/music, the bad boys, loners, misfits, uncategorized) The average High School is a training ground for becoming a respecter of persons. With the abundance of heart-breaking articles coming out of our schools are we not seeing the destructive nature of prejudice?
Cause and Effect
Let’s go back to verse 4: when we are partial in our treatment of others God considers that evil thoughts. Now look with me at verse 9a where God clearly calls this sin.
“So I am to treat everyone the same no matter what?” James is addressing making a snap judgment based upon what our eyes see. We are all responsible for building our character with attributes like honor, respect, truthfulness and integrity. If we act like a jerk don’t expect a bunch of friends. No one wants to hang around with a jerk.
Pro 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
James wants us to know that God, in no uncertain terms, expects us to evaluate each person we meet based upon their own merits, not by any form of prejudice. This is a serious warning for all of us.
What would the world be like if every person was judged based solely on whom they are on the inside? This sounds good when you first hear it. Are we prepared to be judged by our fellow man based solely on our own merits? I’ll leave you with a question I asked several posts back… “Would I hang around someone like me?”