God Makes it Very Clear
Friday - January 29th
Devotionals from the Book of James
Scripture to Read Today: James 2:1-13
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture
“Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.
But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted
by the law as lawbreakers.
Years ago I met a pastor at a conference who shared with me over lunch that in the early days of his ministry he gravitated toward people of prominence and lots of earthly possessions. He wanted to be with them. He wanted to be with their influential friends. At first, he told himself he was just trying to be their pastor. But then, he noticed something.
This pastor began to see a gradual transition in his own heart and spirit. He began to notice that not only was he gravitating toward people of influence and means, but he developed a disdain for those with little earthly wealth or connections.
In one recent situation, a young single mother came to the church for assistance. The pastor realized he was begrudgingly helping this young woman. Even as he handed her a gift card to a grocery store, he caught himself thinking about all the mistakes and wrong she had done to "get herself in this situation." The Holy Spirit convicted him deeply when he said to himself, "She does not deserve this level of love and help." In that moment, the Spirit reminded him of God's undeserved grace and mercy toward him.
After confessing his sinful attitude and his practice of favoritism in caring for the sheep in his flock, the pastor experienced freedom. He found himself seeking out the poor and powerless as much as, if not more, than he previously gravitated toward the wealthy and influential. He told me that he felt like he had been released from a mental and spiritual jail.
All of us struggle with playing favorites and gravitating toward folks who can do something for us over those who can offer us nothing for our help. Favoritism stinks. Treating one group of people with respect, love, and kindness because they offer you something others cannot hurts everyone. People who selectively choose who they will love not only hurt others, they hurt themselves.
In James 1:8-9, God makes it very clear. No matter who a person is or isn't in your eyes or what they are able to do for you in return for your help, you are to love them. You are to help them. When you do, you fulfill "The Royal Law" of loving your neighbor as yourself. When you don't love them, you are as guilty as anyone who violates any of God's holy standards.
You might not approve of how they live, you may not think they are making wise choices, they may not be able to offer you anything, but as a follower of Jesus, you are to love everyone. That's what Jesus did and that's what He calls those who follow Him to do as well. Look for a way to show love and kindness to someone you find it hard to love or who simply goes unnoticed in your life!
Jesus never played favorites with his love. God makes it clear that we should never play favorites either!