Time and time again, I am realizing something about good deeds within the body of Christ.
In our sinful nature, it is much easier for us to be nice to the people we like. Conversely, being cordial to those we dislike is oftentimes a challenge.
At school, it’s easy for me to lend a helping hand to friends who need advice on a paper, or notes from a class they missed. But the moment someone I’m not close friends with needs those same things, it seems as if it’s too much of an inconvenience for me. I’m willing to go the extra mile for some, but not others.
Do you have moments like that at your workplace? In your college classes? In church? You aren’t alone. In fact, James addressed this very issue in his letter.
James 2:8-9: “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” [ESV]
James boils it down to this: if you’re loving your neighbor, great. You’re fulfilling the Law. But if you only love those neighbors you like, you are a transgressor of the Law. In James’ church, the members were showing favoritism to the rich, but this principle can apply in myriad other ways.
Are you short-tempered with people you think are weird? Are you less inclined to spend time with someone if their personality doesn’t mesh well with yours? Do you avoid people in your church that you think aren’t worthy of your attention?
Furthermore, do you tend to show favoritism to those you think are “worthy” of your good works? Your friends? Your family? Those in the church you think are the trend-setters, or the social upper class?
Sadly, I see this tendency in myself every day. So often I treat people based on my perception of them. I’m not exempt from the words of James, though! You aren’t, either. So what’s the remedy?
The remedy is the cross of Christ.
At the cross, all human wisdom, understanding, and opinion are obliterated. As the saying goes, the ground is level at the foot of the cross. Whether a businessman, a fast food employee, or a college student, we are all equal at Calvary. Because of this simple fact, all people – no matter their class, race, IQ, or looks – deserve to be treated equally.
Paul says as much in Ephesians 2:13-14: “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility,” [ESV]
In the Gospel, God has taken all kinds of people – Jew and Gentile, slave and free, male and female – and made them one body in His Son, Jesus. No matter the difference, it is nullified in the person of Christ.
So Christian, love your neighbor. Yes, even the weird one that you dread talking to. Even the one that is never grateful for your help. Even the one no one else reaches out to. Refrain from partiality and favoritism and instead show love to all!