My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favouritism 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 dishonoured 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 fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbour 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 judgement will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgement.
Did you have a favourite teacher? What about your least favourite teacher? What was the difference between them? If you are a parent of multiple children, did your children accuse you of favouring one of them at some point? We have favourite foods, colours, clothes, bags, shoes, books etc, but those things are inanimate items, not people.
It might feel good if you are the favourite but being the one who isn’t the favourite can be an unhappy or difficult place. I am pretty sure that we have all been guilty of favouring people at some time or other in church and life but what about in community projects/mission projects? Having favourites can lead to forgetting that everyone we worship with, reach out to, support and come alongside is a child of God just like us, no more or less.
We are reminded time and again throughout the Bible that we need to love God and love one another, and I am sure that you have heard countless sermons on that very subject, but are we really practicing it? During the height of the pandemic, the news was full of stories of how kind and caring people were. I heard it being referred to as Blitz spirit, but what I hear a lot now is how mean, selfish, unkind and rude people have become. Have we forgotten how to love? Maybe it’s because people are tired, worn down or fed-up, but it isn’t an excuse, Jesus would have felt all those things, but here we are told clearly that favouring some over others is not living the spirit of God’s law.
So I encourage you to practice real loving kindness with every person you interact with this week and see if it changes how you move through the world living out your faith.
Loving God, you don’t have favourites, Help us as we strive to live and love by your example. As we meet people who aren’t our “favourite” people, Remind us that we are all loved equally by you, and we are called to do the same. Help us make every person we interact with feel like they are our favourite. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Kirsty-Ann Mabbott, Church Related Community Worker, Coventry, West Midlands