Focus intently upon the Word, in order to be changed.
So often when we think of showing partiality or favoritism, we tend to think of our junior high and high school days. Those were the days of our lives that were filled with a great deal of pressure to belong to the “in crowd,” and many of us would do almost anything to fit in. For those who were not considered part of the “in crowd,” they endured being shunned and even humiliated at times. Now that we are grown up and considered mature adults, we think we have moved past that stage. However, I encourage you to examine your heart and mind as you unfold this week’s daily devotion and determine if you might still be slightly guilty of showing favoritism to certain kinds of people.
Another focus we will examine this week is the partiality of our sinful nature and how it measures in eyes of God. Many times we think we are “okay” in His sight because we don’t commit some of the major visible sins that others commit. However, we may have some secret sins hidden from public view that God considers just as sinful and atrocious according to His standards. I encourage you to examine your heart and actions to see if you may have any secret sins that you consider “not so bad.” Be prayerful that God will guide you in cleaning out the sinful areas that are hindering you from being all that God desires you to be.
What is the first partiality?
Sunday: Read James 2:1-4 “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 say, ‘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?”
Have you ever found yourself being kinder or showing more appropriate attention to a person who is dressed well as opposed to one who is shabbily dressed? Before you say, “No” stop and think over some of your recent encounters. Recently I was in Phoenix, AZ and traveled around town by means of public transportation. There were many kinds of characters on the public transportation train rides I had. I found myself feeling very leery of certain types of people, and I also found myself looking for those who seemed to be well dressed and possibly going to their job as a professional. I had it in my head that those types of people would be safe and nonthreatening to me. One afternoon late in the day, I rode the train with my husband and son, and we began a conversation with an older lady who was not what I considered “well dressed.” This lady had the kindest and sweetest disposition and was very friendly. One morning I was on the train by myself thinking the same thing that I must sit near someone who is well dressed and has the appearance of being a professional in the world of business. However, this day as I was a bit unsure of my stop, it was a lady who was definitely not dressed as a professional that stepped up to help me understand where my stop should be. She was not only kind, but she also had a genuine concern and interest in helping me.
My perceptions are not always correct. As I think about the people on the train, I begin to see that they are all created by God just as I am. Yes, there are those of whom I should be cautious because they intend evil harm, but their appearance is not always the determining factor that puts them in that category. God created all people, regardless of how much money they have or what kind of clothes they wear. It is not my place to judge them and find them guilty of being of lesser quality. It is my responsibility to see all people as God sees them and to demonstrate love to them as He would.
In your journal today, list times and people you have found yourself shunning or avoiding because of how they looked or were dressed. After you make this list, consider each person listed and say a prayer that God will reach down and bless them in some way today. Also, ask God if you need forgiveness from Him for how you judged each person. If He is leading you to repentance, write that in your journal and ask God to forgive you for this behaviour and attitude toward these people.
Monday: Focus on James 2:5-7“Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?” Today as we focus on our scripture, let’s consider those who seem to be poorer than others. Have you ever considered that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, the King of Kings, came into this world and lived as a poor working man? He did not dress in the finest of clothes and attend the finest schools, nor did He associate exclusively with the wealthiest in town. He humbled himself as a poor carpenter’s son, whose earthly father had to work hard in order to take care of his family. The scripture says that, “God has chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him…” There is a difference in being wealthy with material possessions and wealthy in faith and in the inheritance of God’s Kingdom. Of course, not everyone who is poor materially will be rich in Christ, and not everyone who is wealthy will be without Christ, but it is far better to be poor and have Christ than to be wealthy and not have Christ.
Generally speaking, it was the wealthy and socially elite that oppressed the poor and rejected Jesus, a poor man, as the Son of God. This passage tells us it is dishonourable to the poor man to shun him who does not have great wealth.
Think today about the people you will encounter this week. It is possibly that God may place someone of a different social class than yours in your path who is needing encouragement or kindness demonstrated to them. This may occur in a public place. Are you willing to be seen by others demonstrating acts of encouragement and kindness to this person? Be careful of your answer to this question because God may very well test that answer this very day.
In your journal express your feelings, whether comfortable or uncomfortable, about being seen in public conversing and even praying with a person who is considered lower class than you. Be honest because God already knows your heart and the truth. If it seems to be a struggle, ask God to give you the ability to do what He may call you to do when the opportunity arises.
What is the second partiality?
Tuesday: Focus on James 2:8 “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.” Today we are only going to focus on one scripture passage. In fact, we are primarily going to focus on one word: neighbor. Who is your neighbour? Right now answer that question in your journal.
Now, let’s focus on the meaning of that word. Most of us tend to think that our neighbor lives either next door to us or at least within our neighborhood. Is that the meaning intended here? Actually, the intention here is that we are to demonstrate the kind of love to all people as we would like to have demonstrated to us. Yes, that means all people that God created, not just those who live around us. It even includes those whom we might consider unlovable and even unworthy of love.
We should stop and lend a hand or an encouraging genuine word to those who are in need regardless of how we see them. We are a very busy and fast paced society, that rarely has time to give time to the needs of others. According to this verse, we are to love others the way we love ourselves, and in order to do that, we must take time to get to know people and spend time understanding their needs.
In your journal record an event from this week or last week in which you saw an opportunity to demonstrate love to someone. Record the events and how you handled the situation. Did you seize the moment or did you allow it to pass you by? Do you wish you would have handled it in a more appropriate manner? If so, pray and ask God to allow you another opportunity, so you will have a chance to appropriately show God’s love to someone that really needs to be loved. After you encounter that event, record the details and your feelings about the event.
Wednesday: Focus on James 2:8-11 “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.”
Yesterday, we questioned the demonstration of love to others. Today, we are going to consider our sinful nature and reflect to see if we have sins that are hindering our relationship with Christ. As we think about the sin in our life, many of us tend to think we are doing okay because we are not committing the wicked and visible sins such as murder or adultery. If we have not committed such a big sin, then we must be okay in God’s eyes. Right?
Wrong! If we have any unconfessed sin in our life, God is not pleased with us. Just because it is hidden from the world, God still sees it and knows it exists. If sin is there, we are considered a transgressor of the law. It doesn’t matter how small we think the sin is; it is still sin to God, and it separates us from a close relationship with Him.
Today, focus on your heart and your actions. In your journal write a prayer asking God to reveal to you anything unconfessed and unforgiven sin that you may have that you are unaware of. Once He reveals it, begin praying and asking forgiveness.
Thursday: Focus on James 2:12-13 “So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Too many times we judge others pretty harshly based on the sin in which they are involved when it is visible and obvious. We sometimes even go so far as to think we are far above those people because we are by no means involved in such things as they are. This attitude creates a major problem for us. We are putting ourself in the place of God and measuring sins and placing them into categories and excusing the lesser levels of the categories. Not only are we not to measure our sin and judge others based on their sin, but we are also not to place judgment on others. That is a responsibility set aside for God. Each person’s sin is between that individual and God. Yes, we can pray for and counsel those who will allow us, but we are not to take it upon ourselves to become the judgement of God in their lives.
We should have a broken and compassionate heart for those who are in visible and known sin. We should love them enough to pray for them and provide guidance if God prompts us to go to them. If God does lead us to someone, it is very important to remember that we are not going to them to act as his/her judge, but we are going to help a brother or sister to find restoration with and forgiveness from God. We should not go to any person in such a condition until we have spent time with God ourselves confessing and allowing Him to reveal and cleanse us of the sins He sees in our lives and hearts.
Search your heart and evaluate your thoughts and opinions of others in whom you have seen visible signs of sin. How do you deal with those people? Do you think badly and judgmental of them? Do you feel sad and broken hearted for their condition and earnestly pray for them from a heart of love? In your journal write a person’s name for whom you believe God wants you to earnestly and passionately begin praying.
Friday: Reflect on James 2:1-4 “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 say, ‘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?” Review this passage and exam your heart as you have encountered people all this week. Did you see everyone from God’s perspective, or did you still have tendency to see them through eyes of judgement and place a lesser value on their soul because of who they are or how they look? In your journal write your progress in this matter or write your struggle and desire to overcome this attitude. Today’s thought is short, but it may require you to spend a great deal of time in prayer and journaling with God and your heart.
Saturday: Reflect on James 2:12-13 ““So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” Have you thoroughly dealt with the Mercy that we are to demonstrate to others? Are there still people with whom you are struggling to offer mercy? Sometimes people living in known sin tend to step on others and hurt them as they diligently work to get their desires. Often they do not even care that they have hurt people as long as they get what they desire. Do you know someone who behaves in this way? Has someone you know and love been hurt by such a person? Have you been hurt by such a person?
Today, as you reflect on this passage and your heart, remember that offering mercy and forgiveness to these people is very difficult. You may struggle with this for a while, and sometimes when you think you have mastered it, the negativity resurfaces. Don’t be hard on yourself; be merciful and ask God to help you to overcome, and then ask God to enable you to offer mercy and forgiveness to that person. You will not be able to do this in your own strength. You must rely on God to give you the ability and even the desire to offer mercy and forgiveness.
Reflect these thoughts in your journal and be patient with yourself as you work through this process.
May you be blessed.