For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes,James 2:2(NASB)
There is no shadow of turning with the Lord, and the elderly apostle Peter is one who rehearsed this truth with the fledgling Church at the first council in Jerusalem: "God shows no favouritism." Paul later reinforced this truth by reminding us: "There is no partiality with God," and warns: "Whoever does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality."
As children of our Heavenly Father, we are instructed to reflect on His righteous impartiality, and we should never base our assessment of someone's worth or acceptance on their outward appearance. Nor should we be positively or negatively influenced due to things such parentage, race, sex, colour, position, poverty, or wealth.
But neither should we consider our own worth to be of greater or less value to the Lord than that of all our brothers and sisters in Christ: "For there is no partiality with God." For we have all sinned and are all deserving of His wrath. But we all have been saved by grace through faith, and not of works nor due to our own personal achievement or skill.
Partiality is diametrically opposite to the basic principles of our Christian faith and highly offensive to the Lord, and James gives a good illustration of ungodly partiality, by contrasting the response to two men. First, the overwhelming respect and attentiveness bestowed on a splendidly dressed gentleman who is courteously ushered, with great ceremony, to the finest seat in a church building. Second, a poorly dressed 'ragamuffin' who is met with stiff disapproval, and rudely and unceremoniously instructed to remain standing at the back away from view, or curtly told to sit-down on the floor, out of sight where he would not offend the sensibility of the rest of the congregation.
Although James may have been over-exaggerating the contrasting treatments of the two visitors described in his little cautionary tale, it is an attitude that is all too often exhibited in the lives of Christians and which dishonours God Himself.
James reminds us: "God has chosen the poor in the world to become rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that He promised to those who love Him." Our love for the Lord is demonstrated in the way that we honour all our brothers and sisters in Christ, and consider them before ourselves.
Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the same yesterday, today, and forever, and thank You that there is no shadow of turning with You. Thank You for the Word of God which teaches me how to live godly in Christ Jesus and for this important lesson which calls for humility of heart and a genuine love and respect for all my brothers and sisters in Christ. In Jesus' name, AMEN.
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