When my father-in-law died quite suddenly in the summer of 2000, over 600 people came to the calling hours at the funeral home and the service. It was quite a testimony for a very quiet, humble man who was a “blue-collar” worker and never did things that drew attention to himself.
Probably the most common thing said about him was, “He treated everyone the same.” He had worked for many years at a state park and whether it was a “tawashie” (the mostly high school aged girls hired for the summer to clean toilets) or the park superintendent, he was always courteous, kind and helpful. It seems like a simple thing, and something we would all aspire to, but the fact that so many noted it about “Teak” told me how uncommon it really is.
Sunday’s lesson from James reminds us of the importance of setting aside the categories we place on people in society. “My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favoritism 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?” (James 2:1-4, click here to read the full passage)
James goes so far as to question whether we even believe in Jesus if we show favoritism in our treatment of others. Harsh words, but James considered this a very serious matter.
I think this calls us to consistently examine ourselves, our words, and our actions for indications of what James calls favoritism. Where do you see this in your life? Pray that the Lord will show you where you should make changes and pray for the grace to be known as someone who treats everyone the same.
This column appeared in the September 5, 2021 edition of St. John’s eNews. Click here for the complete issue.
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