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Favoritism denies the Lord Jesus' glory

September 12, 2022

Daily Scripture

James 2:1-4

1 My brothers and sisters, when you show favoritism you deny the faithfulness of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been resurrected in glory. 2 Imagine two people coming into your meeting. One has a gold ring and fine clothes, while the other is poor, dressed in filthy rags. 3 Then suppose that you were to take special notice of the one wearing fine clothes, saying, “Here’s an excellent place. Sit here.” But to the poor person you say, “Stand over there”; or, “Here, sit at my feet.” 4 Wouldn’t you have shown favoritism among yourselves and become evil-minded judges?

Daily Reflection & Prayer

James knew human nature. These verses were not hypothetical. (Imagine the scene if Pat Mahomes were to walk, unannounced, into a worship service at one of Resurrection’s Kansas City locations!) Yet James said we should welcome everyone in the same way, all-star quarterback or homeless person! James “had to remind them that there was no ultimate glory in material wealth or political prestige. The rich politicians…. had no true glory of their own; Jesus had it all.” *

  • One key for James was that when Christ followers met, “our Lord Jesus Christ, who has been resurrected in glory” was present. We often forget that, so we’re dazzled if a person with human power or celebrity enters the church. But in fact, “Glory is a traditional New Testament way of referring to Jesus’ resurrection (see Luke 24:26; John 17:5; Philippians 2:11; 3:21; 1 Peter 1:11).” ** How can you remind yourself that the glorious Christ is present at every church gathering?
  • Like Jesus’ teaching, most of James’ ideas had deep roots in the very best aspects of the Hebrew Bible. “Scripture prohibited showing favoritism in legal settings (Exodus 23:3; Deuteronomy 1:17; 16:19; Proverbs 18:5; 24:23; 28:21), including toward the powerful (Leviticus 19:15).” *** What made it wrong for the powerful to receive privileges ordinary (and especially poor) citizens couldn’t have? Does God call us to live by the same principles today?

Loving Lord, if anyone ever had the right to “pull rank,” it was you. But you didn’t (cf. Philippians 2:5-7). Shape my inner attitude to be ever more like yours. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Emily Stirewalt

Emily Stirewalt

Emily Stirewalt is an ordained Elder in the Missouri Annual Conference, and has served in many different roles throughout Missouri since 2007. She is thrilled to be specializing in pastoral care of elderly adults now as Resurrection's Silverlink Pastor. She is married to Randall, a special education teacher. They have two daughters, Elliott and Marlowe. When Emily is not in a care home sharing communion or with her family on another Kansas City adventure, you can find her curled up on the couch at home binge watching "Friends" or "Golden Girls."

This Scripture passage from James absolutely affirms that he did know human nature. Sometimes it is easy for us to hide our human sides, but what I love about the book of James and this worship series is that we are being honest about our struggles as humans. So I am not ashamed to share with you an insight into my very human nature that appears sometimes when I am parenting my two children.

There are times when my toddler is the easy parent to child. As she becomes more independent, she is surprising me every day with the things she is learning to do on her own. And she is hilarious. She has a great sense of humor and makes me laugh so easily. At times, I find myself thinking that maybe she is my favorite kid. Then there are times that my infant is number one. She does not move very fast yet (just now army crawling!) and therefore does not get into things that she should not be in. It is easy to figure out what she wants these days–usually milk or a nap. Her giggle is infectious. So, sometimes my 9-month-old is the “easy” child and therefore I am wondering if she might be my favorite.

In reality, I love them both equally, of course. It is simply in my human nature to compare them and pick out the one in that moment that seems like the easier one. The truth is that this season of parenting two children two and under is difficult. And when I find myself comparing them, I often remind myself that God does not do that with me and others at all. We are reminded repeatedly in Scripture that we are unique beings, loved by the God who created us as individuals. I parent my two children differently because they are unique human beings. I am tempted to have a favorite sometimes. That is human. That is motherhood. I am so grateful that God reminds me there is room for both of my girls and that all of creation is beloved by God, just as we are. Thanks be to God. Amen!

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* David A. Hubbard, The Book of James: Wisdom That Works. Waco, TX: Word Books, 1980, p. 45.
** Patrick J. Hartin, study note on James 2:1 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 456NT.
*** Comment on James 2:1 in NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook . Zondervan. Kindle Edition.