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  • Shawn Thornton

The Man on the Second Row

Tuesday - January 26th

Devotionals from the Book of James

Scripture to Read Today: James 2:1-13

If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person,

but you say to the poor one,

"You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor,"

well, doesn't this discrimination show that your

judgments are guided by evil motives?

James 2:3-4 NLT


Early in my ministry at Calvary, folks told me about a time when they were in a worship service at Calvary, and a homeless man came down the aisle and sat in the second row. Since the service was well underway, the man dressed in well worn, filthy clothes got everyone's attention. It didn't help that his hair was a mess, and he looked filthy too. Most had noticed the scruffy homeless man sitting on the sidewalk in front of the church as they earlier entered the building for worship. So, his presence was a distraction for many and an irritation for others.


As the final song before the sermon finished, folks in the congregation looked around for Pastor Larry DeWitt. Pastor Larry, Calvary's founding pastor, generally stepped right up to preach. This time, there was a bit of an awkward pause in the service. Everyone expected Larry to step up, but he was nowhere to be found. Then, the homeless man in the second row walked up onto the platform. Everyone held their breath. What was this disruptive visitor going to do?


The man reached up to his head and removed the nasty-looking wig he wore. As he began to speak, the confusion in the room disappeared. The rugged-looking man from the front sidewalk was Pastor Larry in convincing disguise.


Whether Larry preached on James 2:1-13, which addresses favoritism in the church, or not, I do not know. But, he preached on the same theme of the passage. Pastor Larry talked about how uncomfortable people had been seeing him (a homeless man) outside the church's doors. He taught how the followers of Jesus should be like Jesus in noticing, serving, and loving all people.


Details of what folks present that day remember are not the same. But they all emphasize how much that message impacted their lives and how they treat others - even now.


The church of Jesus Christ must treat everyone with the same value and dignity. James 2:3-4 warns us of the danger of treating well-dressed, good-looking, and healthy people one way and treating scruffy, dirty, poorly dressed people another way. God values them the same, and so should the followers of Jesus.


As you see others in your path of life this week, ask yourself if you see them all with the same God-given value and dignity. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal pockets of favoritism and criticism in your heart. Who knows, maybe you will see Pastor DeWitt somewhere in the community and not even know it is Larry!


Like Jesus did, as Christ's followers, we should see and treat everyone as people made in God's image!

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