Today’s Scripture: James 2
James chapter 2 begins with a provocative question which is as relevant today as when it was first posed nearly 2,000 years ago:
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?
The book of James was authored by Jesus’ brother, who was a leader in the Jerusalem Church. As a point of context, both the Old and New Testaments were written in an era when prejudice was rampant, even among Christians. Discrimination thrived in the first century amid a misplaced emphasis on differences in ethnicity, gender, nationality, social status, and religion.
Like Jesus and James, we too live in a time of prejudice. We are not born prejudiced, it is learned. Prejudice exists because we are sinful beings. We need look no further than the daily headlines or social media sites to find examples of the venomous prejudice that exists today. Truth be told, there are times when we need only look in the mirror to see them.
Though its application may be subtle and even subconscious at times, we all exhibit prejudice. Our selfish nature tells us that there may be more gained from the person with status or power, so we favor them over others who seem to have less to offer. We make snap judgments about others based on their appearance or the opinions they express. And in our worst moments, when we are feeling vulnerable or weak, we may even choose to lift ourselves up by bringing others down.
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?
The beauty of Jesus’ teachings – and his exemplary life – is that they transcend prejudice. It has been said that prejudice cannot see the things that are because it is always looking for things that aren’t. Jesus turned the tables on this notion of accentuating our differences by instead focusing on what believers have in common. What we have in common is that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. As the Bible tells us, we are all “made in his image, in the image of God he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)
To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, the man who looks down on others cannot see that which is above him. And this, friends, is where understanding, acceptance, and healing begin. When we fix our gaze on God, we focus on him and not our differences. We do this in a selfless and loving brotherhood that enables us to not only declare our faith in Jesus, but also live it.
Do you believe there are degrees to prejudice – that some instances are less egregious than others? What do Jesus’ actions show us? Is there someone in your circle of friends or relatives that you can rely upon to “keep you honest” when it comes to regarding all others with equal value?
Set aside some time to recall an occasion when you exhibited prejudice. Rather than focusing on the degree of the sin, think about the factors that drove your behavior. Consider how you could have handled the situation differently and seek to apply this approach going forward. Devote a portion of your prayer time this week to asking God for awareness and guidance in acting impartially toward others.
Heavenly Father, I thank you for your perfect example of impartiality. Grant me the eyes to regard others as you do and the desire to serve all others justly. And when I fall short of your standard, I ask that you provide me the conviction to see my prejudices, confess my sins, and seek to love others as you do. Amen.
This post was written by Todd Romain. Todd enjoys sharing life with his wife Jessica and their family and serving at CedarCreek. He is a communications director at Owens Corning and enjoys reading, writing, music, and sports in his spare time.
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