The first half of the second chapter of James has a lot to save about favoritism. He's against it. Don't have a higher opinion of people that have money, and don't treat people who have less as if they are in some way less. Often, if is the "haves" who make our lives as Christians more complicated, and often it is those who have little to cling to in this world that God uses for AMAZING eternal purposes. When I have favorites or "pets" I am in fact sinning. Well, there isn't much wiggle room there. God says love your neighbor as your self. For God there is no little sin. He doesn't rate sin on a sliding or progressive scale like I sometimes do. He hates all of it. All of it separates me from Him.
Money doesn't really trip me up much - there have been times when we've had more and times when we've had less. I've known some amazingly giving and Godly people with truly minimal finances that would do almost anything to help a person in need, and I've known people with limitless financial resources and a great desire to hold on to all that earthly wealth. I've also known poor people that work the system harder than they work to support themselves and meet their own needs and I have known wealthy people who work hard to share with others every blessing that God has given them. It's not the money - it's the condition of the heart. All that said, I was feeling pretty good about this passage - cause like I said, money doesn't play a lot into my thought process.
But then God started talking to me about other types of favoritism.
- Do I ask the person who has the most amazing voice ever to do all of the specials and lead all of the songs - even when there are others with willing hearts and good voices?
- Is the kid that is the "ideal" student mentor the one I always pick to be a class leader, even though there are other kids that could learn to lead if I would invest a bit more effort and time in them?
- When there is a job to be done, do I always and only look to my faithful friends that I like to work with and know will get the job done, or do I look to involve the new or un-invested people in our church family?
- Do I make my time and energy available to those around me who might need some extra love and encouragement even tho they can be needy and hard to love at times, or do I mostly invest myself in those who are "easy" to love?
- When I am planning events, do I pick dates that work for me and my friends, or do I pick dates that meet the needs of my entire faith community?
- When I ask someone to do something and they kindly tell me "no", do I love, respect and treat them the same as if they had said "yes"?