The Call for Impartiality
In our recent lessons in the book of James, we have seen that in order to be blessed by the word of God, we must have a proper attitude (i.e., be willing to hear what God has to say) and we must make a proper response (i.e., be willing to do what we hear, even if it means making changes in our life and way of thinking). If one is truly hearing and obeying God's word, then he will definitely practice the principles of Christianity (e.g., controlling one's tongue, providing for those who are in need, personally striving to remain pure, etc.).

Another practical principle of Christianity is addressed in 2:1 - "My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality." One challenging aspect of genuine Christian living is avoiding partiality or favoritism.

In the following verses, James specifically addressed the problem of Christians showing partiality or special concern for those who were rich and highly favored in the world. This unfair treatment was not proper behavior for those striving to follow Jesus Christ.

We will analyze what James had to say about favoritism toward the rich in the coming days, but for now let's think about this first verse in general. Do you show favoritism or partiality in certain ways that you shouldn't?

Humans have a tendency to be partial for almost any reason. In the past, there were problems of favoritism between the rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, male and female, slave and free, etc. Today there are problems of favoritism between the rich and poor, white and black, educated and uneducated, management and laborers, etc. The problem of partiality is still around. It thrives in the world, and, if you open your eyes, you will see it every day. Because partiality is so common in the world, even Christians often practice it unknowingly. Many are blind to the sin. Let's do our best to open our eyes so we can avoid this great evil!

Perhaps you're wondering: What's so sinful about partiality? What is wrong if I want to pay special attention to a white man and ignore a black man? What is sinful about favoring a rich person over one who has very little money? The answer is simple--it is sinful to be partial because God is not partial! Listen to what Peter said in Acts 10:34,35 - "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears him and works righteousness is accepted by Him." I Timothy 2:4 says that God "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." God wants all to be saved; He has no favorites in that sense! God wants all to follow Him, and if He doesn't show favoritism based on external circumstances, then neither should we! God doesn't give special attention to those who have rank and social position, wealth, fame, lots of education, or a certain skin color--and neither should we! Physically speaking, every human stands equally before God. Your skin color is irrelevant. The size of your bank account is unimportant. Whether you've gone to college or not is insignificant. God will not show favoritism based on any of those things.

However, He will favor those who fear Him and work righteousness; He shows partiality when it comes to spiritual matters. For those who are His children, He freely gives all of the spiritual blessings that are to be found in Christ (Eph. 1:3). He shows partiality to Christians by giving them forgiveness, peace, hope, and everlasting life. He doesn't give those things to the world. So, in this sense He does show partiality, but it is based upon spiritual matters, not physical matters over which we often have little control. And, in an absolute sense, you could rightly say that God is not partial, because anyone who is willing to submit to His will and obey Him will be blessed as other Christians are. He does reserve special treatment for His children, but He invites anyone to submit to His will and become a child of His!

Friends, make sure that you are not showing partiality to certain people based upon physical circumstances. God does not behave this way and neither should those who live to please Him.