2 Chronicles 34-36
“If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, ‘Here’s a good seat for you,’ but say to the poor man, ‘You stand there’ or ‘Sit on the floor by my feet,’ have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?” —James 2:3-4
Discrimination is a huge trait of society today. It always has been and sadly, always will be. Discrimination is defined as unfavourable treatment, usually based on prejudice regarding race, colour or gender, or as in the above verse, based on economic status.
James writes, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself,’ you are doing right. But if you show favouritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as law-breakers” (2:8-9). This is not simply breaking the law, but James describes it as evil thoughts. Behind discrimination is a superficial sense that places value on outward appearance, status, what a person owns, where they came from and who they are—none of which is relevant to God.
When we are intent on portraying what will impress others, we will equally have a sense of judgment about others. The question is, why do we hold prejudices that inflict our own standards upon others? Mostly, it is as Jesus says, and Jesus always goes straight to the heart: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3). The reason is that, in some way, we are lacking a sense of worth. We are not content with who we are or what we have, and will discriminate against those in whom we see ourselves.
Scripture again and again warns us about superficial judgments. The more we value the outer things, the less we value the inner things, and it is the inner things God looks upon, because it is where our true identity lies. When we judge and discriminate, we are not just showing ourselves to be superior, but it is sin. It is damaging and hurtful, not only to those we discriminate against, but to ourselves as it reveals a lack of humility that, unless changed, will ultimately work against us.
Every person is of immeasurable value to God, and we all stand on equal ground. James tells us, “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment” (2:12-13). Inherent in the love of Christ within us are mercy and compassion. If we are going to make this world a better place, we need to start with ourselves; obliterate any form of discrimination; and convey the love of Christ, which He extends to everyone.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I ask that You reveal to me any prejudices I have that I may not even be aware of, and make me a vessel of Your love to others. Thank You, Lord.