James 2: 1-5
As I read James 2:1-5, I was reminded when I taught Bible study at City Hall in East St. Louis, IL. in the 90s. Many people received Jesus as Savior. I did not want to pastor, so I partnered with several churches of different denominations to receive on Sunday morning those who were saved on Saturday night.
After some months I called the newly saved to see how they were doing with their new church families. None of them were in church. They had gone to the recommended churches but were not received.
Some were sat in the back of the church. Some received unwelcome stares. Some were told they did not belong.
You see, some did not have the required “church clothes.” Some did not know proper church etiquette for that particular denomination. At Saturday night Bible study, they could say, “Amen,” when they agreed with what was preached; and they could praise God as the Spirit moved them. But that behavior was considered noise at their new church home. They were judged by their outward appearance and their response to the preached Word.
Favoritism (whether based on “race, class, education, gender, or culture,” Tony Evans), was just alive in the 90s as it was in the first century church.
Read slowly the favoritism of First Church described by James, the brother of Jesus in James 2:1-4:
My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
James says that those who show favoritism in the house of the Lord “become judges with evil thoughts.” My! My! My! These are strong words. At the time, I thought these new saints were rejected because the pastors had not trained their ushers and congregations how to receive strangers who looked different or praised the Lord differently. I contributed their behavior to ignorance, but not being “evil.” After considering James’ next statement, I understand why he called them “judges with evil thoughts.”
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? (James 2:5)
It is evil to reject one who (1) God has chosen to be rich in faith, (2) who is heir of the kingdom of God, and (3) who loves God. In the household of faith, we do not have the right to evaluate a person’s value based on something as outward appearance. That is a standard the unbeliever uses.
Consider the following scriptures:
- “Stop judging by outward appearances, and start judging justly”(John 7:24).
- “Why, then, do you judge your brother? Or why do you belittle your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat” (Romans 14:10).
- So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:28).
- But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Are you judging people bases on outward appearance? Are you being judged by outward appearance? Is your church welcoming to strangers/visitors? Do you make it a point of welcoming strangers at your church? #Join the conversation.
Great article, again, as always, Dr. Favoritism is something God don’t appreciate. Also, judging others, as well. I had family members guilty of the same two attributes. God is still God. Though.
COME THRU ELIZABETH!!!!!
My husband had one of those military jobs where we moved about every two years. Making friends wasn’t easy for me. I found it helpful to look for people who needed a friend. Twice I had the opportunity to make wonderful friendships at church because I offered to help women with twin babies! One mom I met, our church had not helped when she called because one of their three children was seriously sick and her husband was sent out of state. After hearing that, I’m thankful I was able to visit her once a week. God had me at the right place with the right attitude. This also reminded me of Hebrews 13:1-3. “Let brotherly love continue. Don’t neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it. Remember those in prison, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily.”
Hi Dr. Haire,
I have seen and experience some of the things in this blog and agree that judgemental attitudes and respect of person demonstrated in churches is discouraging and damaging to the spiritual growth of individuals and churches. A church that exhibits the love of God is a church that welcomes the whosoever without judgement and prejudices.
Enjoyed the reading Don’t Judge a book by Its Cover. So true a person can be judge by outward appearance. We make it a point to welcome strangers. We give guest a welcome card to fill out and at announcement time we acknowledge them. After Service the Pastors, Deacons and members are encouraged to greet our guest and we do follow-up if they answer answer questions that they would like to know more about the church we give information regarding the Mission and Vision of our church.
Enjoyed your blog. It is unfortunate that we are still judged and sometimes judge people based on appearance. I confess I have been guilty of that until the individual opened their mouth and out cane an educated and articulate individual. I have the elders of my church bring the visitors to me after service so that I personally welcome them.
As it relates to the story about people coming into the church with street clothes on…this post causes us to rethink how we treat others. In fact, there are two sides to this coin. On one side when we have newcomers in our church and we should be patient with them and the Holy Spirit while they are learning, being delivered, and set free. On the other side of that coin, we have others who have been in church for years still dressing what could be deemed as inappropriately. The latter folks, often help to create a hardness or religious need for a dress code.
I believe we should be careful about how we come into the house of God and how we treat others—beyond what they are wearing. The church is a public place and not everyone comes to church with pure motivates. Jude warned his readers that “there are certain men crept in unaware.” These men had a form of godliness, yet they opposed the teachings of Christ Jesus. Just because people are dressed in fine clothes does not make them godly. Instead, what makes us godly is our heart and our attitude toward God. We have try their spirit and see it it lines up with the Holy Spirit.
How sad it is that religious favoritism and prejudice is alive and well in the church today. I have felt the sting and hurt of it. People smiling in your face, and stabbing you in the back. All the while judging your faith in God by look’s. One day they are accepting, next day, snubbing with their holy friends standing by. It’s easy to be branded a rebel when you separate yourself from fake people.
I really enjoyed this. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. So true we do judge people by their appearance and we judge people on thoughts of others
So True, Dr. Haire, and it still happens.
I enjoyed this good Word. It does cause one to do a self examination, to reflect, and to realize that unfortunately, this is a truth that still exists today.
I asked the LORD to look through HIS spiritual “EQUITY LENSES” as I give the HOLY SPIRIT the permission to search my heart and give GOD the report to analyzes the data that is received according to HIS Word and thus elimination of the barriers that exist that would not allow those that are attempting to enter into kingdom. Someone is saying “I Still Can’t Breathe” because I am unable to get the CROSS because saints are being religious
Thank you Dr. Haire for sharing another great article. I believe that people who believe and received the word of God in their hearts are God children and iam one of them.to day I can be a help other and not judge them.God says in 11peter.318 we must grow grace and knowledge. This is how God help me
As always, good message Dr. Haire.
I’ve always been drawn to those who others didn’t accept. I’ve been there myself(it still occurs). As life continues, I’ve found out there are people whose life isn’t not all they appear to be. (I’m reminded of John 3:16.) I believe on showing uncondtional love to everyone and let God be the judge.
Good blog! Much needed Word to provoke much needed self-reflections!
This makes one examine themselves. I am sure at one time or another we have all been guilty of showing favortism. Help us to treat others as You would oh Lord God.
This makes one examine themselves. I am sure at one time or another we have all been guilty of showing favortism. Help us to treat others as You would oh Lord God my Father.
Dr. Haire, this is such an appropriate topic at this time. From time to time, we have been guilty judging others or showing favortism. We can not judge someone based on appearance. As an educator, it is so important not to judge children because we don’t know what or who they will become. You can never judge a book by its cover.
Thank you for this excellent blog. I hope I do not judge people according to their outward appearance. In my heart of hearts when I see someone coming into church who doesn’t appear the way we think church people should appear I’m drawn to them. I teach my Sunday school class not to judge people based upon their appearance. We do not know where those people are mentally or psychologically. This could be their last effort at life and yet we are concerned with their outward appearance and our traditions. I remember having a usher snarling at me because I walked in at the wrong time. God forbid!!! That woman didn’t know me from Adam. She didn’t know if I was suicidal; did I come to church one last time. If so, that usher could have push me over the edge. We need to watch ourselves. Judging others based on appearance is a sin.
Great word for such a time as this….
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