Brethren, It seems that favoritism was a major problem in the early church as it is today, as those with greater wealth or standing were accorded better treatment than others. So, what are we trying to do to address this problem as a church and as a believer? James, one of Jesus’ disciple tried to address this issue back in his days by saying:
My brothers show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and says, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:1–4)
How do you treat the “poor” visitors who attend your functions without gifts to offer? Are you willing to give up your seat to nobodies in the society? Do you welcome others and make them feel special based on class, nationality, position? What if God chose us on the merits of our special status or our worth? What if God chose us upon merely external appearances, or special ability, or skin color and you didn’t have the right skin color?
Favoritism is incompatible with our faith. Favoritism can infect the fellowship in the church. Favoritism is an insult to our MTM family. How did Jesus treat others? Did He ever show favoritism? No. Don’t show favoritism then. Favoritism is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Favoritism is a sin.
Favoritism is partiality or bias. To show favoritism is to give preference to one person over others with equal claims. It is similar to discrimination and may be based on conditions such as social class, wealth, clothing, actions, etc.
It was said that you can’t judge a book by its cover. But we experience favoritism every day in our immediate world. People create a ranking system based on superficial criteria such as beauty, status, wardrobe, or prestige. I believe is all over our society due to evil pride, a constant desire to promote ourselves by looking down at others, not taking the time to see what may be on the inside.
It’s not easy to admit, but let’s face it. We see it in the church as well. Yes, we as believers have the Spirit of God within us, and therefore we have the capacity to reflect God’s complete impartiality.2Chronicles 19:7 says, “There is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons. “In other words, God does not show favoritism. So do you?
Yet without obedience to Him, we behave no better than anyone else. We aren’t showing God’s character when we seek out others based on what we see on the outside.
If we are one body in Christ, shouldn’t we reflect His character?
Here is a list of questions we must ask of our church, but more importantly, to honestly ask of ourselves:
1.Do we (I) divide ourselves (myself) socially based on social status?
2.Is my church diverse when it comes to race and background? Do I make a point to befriend members from all walks of life?
3.Do we (I) set myself apart from the outcast at the end of the pew?
4.Who do we (I) talk to at the end of a service?
5.Are there distinct cliques in my church? Am I a part of them?
6.Does my church resemble a fashion show more than a church gathering at times? Who am I dressing for when I go to church?
7.Do I or church leadership favor the popular over the not-so-popular for positions of service?
8.Do the sermons at my church (more than anything else) focus on status and riches as indicators of God’s blessing? Do I often believe that favor is measured by wealth?
Friend, God is not interested in your beauty, your wardrobe, or your bank account, no matter how little or much you possess. I believe there will come a day when the body of Christ will truly be united, whether it is through sanctification and/or necessity. May it be sooner rather than later. “…man looks at the outside, yet God looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7)
As Christians, we are supposed to be imitators of Christ who shows no favoritism, so neither should we. In Scripture, we learn that it’s forbidden. In life, we show favoritism by favouring the rich over the poor, treating others differently because of misjudging them, one race over another race, one gender over another gender, a person’s status at work or church over someone else’s, and when we pick sides. Be respectable and kind to all. Don’t judge off of appearance and repent of all partiality.
Favoritism is a problem we still deal with. Favoritism and partiality are not from God, and Christians are called to love. As humans, we tend to form judgments based on selfish, personal criteria rather than seeing others as God sees them. May we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and follow His example of treating every person with God’s love (John 3:16).