Don’t Show Favoritism

James 2:1-12

Jerry A Collins




v                 What is the meaning of showing favoritism?

v                 Why is the law called a royal law?

v                 Why is the law called the law of liberty?


There are an awful lot of things that just do not make sense to us about God’s expectations and desires and demands for us. He tells us to lose our lives; take up our cross; don’t seek revenge; speak evil of no one; when angry do not sin; love your wife like Christ lived the church; obey; our parents; respect your husband; give your money; be filled with the Spirit; pray without ceasing; and don’t show personal favoritism. James just taught us that true religion finds an outlet in service, a service which demands that a believer learn to accept others without prejudice and to assist others without presumption. Bottom line, it begins be learning to not to make distinctions between ourselves in the body of Christ based upon worldly standards of status, wealth, fame, power, or influence. Making distinctions this way motivates us to preferential treatment based on impure motives. You never want to be guilty of showing favoritism because of some perceived gain for yourself. Have you ever been guilty of this? Of course you have and James tells you to stop it because your judgment will be severe if you do not vs 13. Judgment is everywhere in this book (2:4, 12, 13; 3:1; 4:11-12; 5:9; 12).


Don’t show favoritism vs 1 We now move on to a different subject “my brother”, indicates this. James reminds us that we have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. Do you think of Jesus that way? Interesting that James, the brother of Jesus, makes this statement. He and his siblings did not believe in Jesus as the Christ during Jesus’ lifetime. James has had a thorough conversion. He is the spokesman for the church in Jerusalem. We do have faith in our glorious Lord. This faith is in the gospel which gives a completely new standing before God. It is as if I never sinned and just as if I always obeyed. Do you look at yourself that way? That is the present reality of our justification in Christ. In God’s eyes we are so completely identified with Jesus that we lived the life he lived and died the death he died. Do you see yourself as standing before the Lord fully righteous united with Christ? We should be motivated by the gospel every day of our lives. None of us deserve what we have been given in Christ. So James commands that we not hold this faith in our lives with an attitude of personal favoritism. It is diametrically opposed to who we our and how we are in Christ. It is all of grace and gratitude toward Christ. To make distinctions, then, between people and one another is to dishonor who we are in Christ. We do not deserve to be who we now are. God was not attracted to you He chose you when you were unattractive (Eze 16 did the same with Israel).

He illustrates this Suppose James says, a man with a gold ring obviously well off or well-known or well connected--comes into an assembly of believers. Someone also comes in dirty and poor vs 2. So we have an obvious contrast. A friend of mine invited to teach actually went to the class as a hobo. No one knew him until he was introduced to speak. Up to that point almost everyone avoided him. He made his obvious point to them as he taught on this passage. Then you literally ‘gaze upon’ the fine man and give him preferential seating. You give special attention. The poor man you give a seat on the floor—under everyone’s feet—out of the way vs 3. So James accuses—you have made an evil judgment vs 4. He does not condemn making judgment but judgment with evil motives. Judgment that discriminates with ulterior motives. Do you invite people who give you no advantage to your social gatherings? Do you have mental dress code for people when we gather? Do you have poor xians in your relationships? Do you serve with them not just to them? Are they valuable in your heart? Why is it evil? The motive is for social or financial gain in our religious meetings or ministries. The real motive is so that the rich and influential will honor our organization or ministry endeavor.

(1) Puts institution over individual

(2) Puts earthly over eternal

(3) Puts short-term ahead of long-term


If you are making distinctions among yourselves on outward appearances based on wealth, status, or influence, you are being judges with evil motives.

1. God did not do that vs 5. He chose the poor because the poor are not as likely to have their values tied to this world. They appear poor materially but are rich spiritually. Actually all true believers are poor by definition in this world because we place no value on the riches of this world whether we have them or not. Being poor is a mindset and attitude as well as possessions.

2. Throughout history the rich usually so by dishonesty—they oppress others and guilty of distortion, and slander vs 6. They also are the ones who blaspheme and curse the noble name to whom believers belong vs 7. The point, believers belong to Christ not these rich exploiters we believe can give us an advantage of some kind. We would have to agree with James to insult the poor and favor the rich and influential was sin and totally unreasonable.

3. If we value God’s thinking and priority then you will love your neighbor as yourself. If you show partiality you will be guilty and convicted vs 8-9. It is a royal law meaning the kings law for his household and his realm—so it is a family code. So God says, change the way you think about the poor and powerless and favoritism. In the body of Christ there is no distinction. You cannot love a person and either at the same time want something from them—the wealth or influence or recognition for personal gain—or despise them because there is no apparent advantage for you from a relationship with them. Love is violated when distinctions are made. (On Celeb Rehab this week Rod Stewarts son being counseled and during the session this 27 yr old broken by his drug addiction and then his alcohol wept and said ‘my dad was never there for me. Always on the road he never took time for me. I still have that hurt inside of me even as an adult.’) The rich and famous have their own problems.


In case you mite not consider your prejudice as a sin James says the thing about the law is if you break one part of it your guilty of all of it. There are no special indulgences. The same would be true for no adultery but murder—you still transgress the law and are guilty. Yet, the Law of Moses gives us liberty vs 12. It gave you boundaries which give you liberty within them. It has wise constraints. So speak and act as those judged by it instead of seeing what you might get away with, you will never get away with sin.

1. Don’t be motivated by the temptation to pursue advantage at the expense of someone else.

2. Understand that we must not use relas to advance our greed, pride, or personal ambitions.

3. Give those who can never give back—widow, orphan, poor—what you would like to be given so they know you love them.