We are currently preaching through the book of James on Sunday mornings at our church. Our text for this past week was James 2:1-13, where James encourages his readers to avoid the sin of partiality. The chapter begins with the following admonition,
My brothers and sisters, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.James 2:1
This passage contains one of my favorite aspects of the Bible: God often calls us to simply imitate who He is and what He has done for us in the gospel. It makes sense, considering His call to “be holy as I am holy” (Lev. 19:2). Everything that He asks us to do compels us to be more like Him. And we become more like Him by imitating, as far as we are able, who He is and what He has done for us. Let me explain.
We are told throughout the scriptures that God does not show partiality (Rom. 2:11; Deut. 10:17; Job 34:19; Acts 10:33). He does not show favoritism. He treats everyone equally, regardless of nationality, physical appearance, talents, position, family, etc. Thus, if we want to imitate God and be holy as He is holy, we should refrain from showing partiality. But what does that look like?
Let’s look at what it looks like for God to not show partiality. Because of His love, He sent His Son to die for the world (John 3:16). People from every tribe, tongue, and nation are invited to come to Christ and be saved. Anyone who comes, regardless of what they’ve done, who they are, or where they’re from, will find a Savior ready to forgive, cleanse, and redeem (Matt. 11:28-30).
Those who repent of their sin and trust Christ become a part of His “body.” That body is comprised of people from different social classes, ethnicities, gifts, talents, and occupations. But they are all ONE. They are united to Christ together. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). In Christ, there is no partiality. All are invited. All who come are saved. All who come are united in Christ. Together they compromise a beautiful temple being built for the glory of Christ.
It is important to remember that each of us are unworthy recipients of God’s refusal to show partiality. We were in the same boat with the rest of humanity- separated from God because of our sin. But God, in His mercy, sent His Son to pay the penalty of sin (including the sin of partiality) for people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. He takes whoever has faith in Him dresses them in His righteousness, adopts them as a son or daughter of God, and begins the process of conforming them into His image.
Who are we, then, to show partiality? If our God has welcomed all in the gospel, shouldn’t we welcome all as well? When a noticeably poor person walks into our church, do we view them as less important than the wealthy person? Do we view people of different ethnicities as lower or higher on the totem pole of significance? Do we view certain occupations, degrees, or positions in society as more or less valuable to our congregations? If so, we are not imitating the God who shows no partiality.
Let us heed James’ admonition to fight against the sin of partiality. In doing so, we will be imitating the God who shows no partiality and embodying the glorious truth of the gospel, which brings grace and mercy to all without distinction. That is how we imitate God and what He has done for us in the gospel.