September 5 I Wednesday
1 Corinthians 15:1-28
“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favouritism.” —James 2:1
Discrimination, the unfavourable treatment of others based on prejudices like race, gender or economic status, has been tragically common throughout history, but James condemns such prejudice and favouritism as evil, insulting, forbidden and a sin. He illustrates by a hypothetical situation where a rich man with fine clothes and a poor man with shabby clothes attend a church gathering. He says, “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).
Human beings have an unfortunate tendency to make judgments based on outward appearance. We may let the quality of someone’s clothes, hygiene or grooming affect the degree of care or respect we show that person, but Scripture repeatedly warns against this kind of superficiality.
Shortly before His death, Jesus told a parable where He, the King, upon His return to judge the world, will divide all people into two groups, the sheep and the goats. The King blessed the sheep for caring for ”the least of these brothers and sisters of mine” (Matthew 25:40), but He reprimanded the goats, saying, “For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was ill and in prison and you did not look after me” (Matthew 25:42-43). Confused, the goats replied, “But Lord, had we known it was You who was hungry or thirsty or sick, we would have helped You!” Of course they would have! Anyone can put their best foot forward for Jesus, but one way the real state of our hearts is revealed is by how we treat others regardless of their position or circumstances.
As believers, we have something that transcends differences, fears and discrimination—love. Paul writes, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,” or as the NASB puts it, “as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). Love is what makes people feel important, valued and cared for. The spirit that overrides discrimination is when “they” are more important than “I,” whatever their economic standing, skin colour, background, sexual orientation or history. As recipients of Christ’s love and mercy, we “must not show favouritism.” When we encounter others of all walks of life, whether believers or unbelievers, we are to let His love lived through us triumph over judgment and discrimination.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, replace the spirit of discrimination within me with Your heart for others. Help me to approach all people with the same love and mercy You have for me. Thank You, God.