James 2:1 – My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.
As a young pastor, my wife Grace and I started out teaching a Bible study for college-aged kids. Near the university were numerous homeless kids who intermingled with the university students in the local coffee shops and concert venues. As a general rule, the college kids looked like typical clean-cut middle and upper middle-class suburbanites. The homeless kids wore a lot of black, slept in their clothes, bathed infrequently, and smoked a lot of cigarettes.
To reach both groups, I would preach a very late-night service with no childcare in a punk rock concert venue. Every once in a while, a clean-cut Christian family would show up for church. On one occasion, we had a family with a lot of kids all dressed up in their Sunday best carrying King James Bibles and the look on their faces as they saw a small army of goth kids smoking outside the front doors using colorful language was one I will never forget.
I could see they were out of their element, so I approached them to welcome them. They asked if they had the right address and if we were a church. I explained that we were trying to be missionaries to kids who did not know Jesus and we were far more concerned about them meeting Jesus and having the Holy Spirit in them than what we were seeing on the outside. To their credit, this family overcame their awkwardness, attended a service, and stuck around for a season to serve the homeless kids. I was very proud of them as they obeyed the heart of what James 2 is encouraging.
We all imagine ourselves as impartial to outward appearances, but reality often reveals our biases. In the beginning of chapter 2, the Apostle James exhorts believers to demonstrate their faith through action by not showing preferential treatment. The Bible says that man looks at the outward, but that God looks at the inward (1 Samuel 16:7). Jesus also rebuked religious hypocrites who looked good outwardly to others but looked awful inwardly to God (Matthew 7:15, 23:7-8). Judging someone outwardly is easy – we do not need to meet them, get to know them, or learn anything about them. Getting to know someone inwardly is harder – we need to approach them, ask questions, listen, and hear about their life journey and where they are at with Jesus Christ.
Is there anyone you’ve ever judged before getting to know them that, once you got to know them, you realized they were actually kind and godly?
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