Come Holy Spirit and help me to see myself as I am. Not more nor less but as you see me.
James 2:1-13 (NRSV)
My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Have a seat here, please,” while to the one who is poor you say, “Stand there,” or, “Sit at my feet,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters. Has not God chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who oppress you? Is it not they who drag you into court? Is it not they who blaspheme the excellent name that was invoked over you?
You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.
Favoritism is a sin, and an easy one to commit. All we have to do is look with our own eyes and live out of the standards and priorities of this world. Then we will be naturally attracted to the people who are successful, have wealth, and can offer us something. Favoritism is rooted in selfishness. We favor and seek to please the people who can return the favor.
James redirects us to “the glorious Lord Jesus Christ.” What we see in Jesus is humility and meekness. In humility, Christ set aside glory for service and sacrificed all he deserved to live in our poverty. In meekness, Christ welcomes and accepts all who come to him. Even if the person coming to Christ has wasted his or her life and can only offer a few years of frail service, Christ welcomes him or her with open arms. In contrast, we judge people by their usefulness, and God condemns our prideful preferences. Yet, interestingly, James reminds us that Jesus has his own preference. It’s a preference for mercy. So, we can please Christ today by being humble with, accepting of, and merciful toward others.
God, we are glad you don’t play favorites and through Christ all are welcome. Show us when we are not being humble and meek like Christ. Show us where we are not being merciful. Amen.
May God grant you the grace to see others with the same merciful love that God has for you.