James 2 gives the believer instructions to treat both rich and poor with generous hospitality, not showing favoritism. How does this compute when I am approached by a well-dressed businessman holding a briefcase, allegedly a Google executive, whose wallet has been stolen and who needs $14 for the Long Island Railroad? Keep the story and change the person, what is my response when a toothless, unshaven man in dirty clothes asks me for the same amount, allegedly for the same reason? It takes the Spirit-filled, transformed mind of Christ to know how to respond wisely to requests like these. Jesus, after the “If you love those who love you” portion of his Sermon on the Mount, gave us this impossible instruction: “Be perfect therefore, as your heavenly Father also is perfect.” Good news, in this area of relationships, we will never be able to live perfectly without the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives! Even with the saving power of Jesus, perfection is more a future hope than a present reality. The hope of perfection is another gift we receive through the gospel, and we can begin living it in the Spirit, by the grace of God.
It seems that “best friends” and “loyal” relationships can wander into the mine field of favoritism. Something to consider: are there people in your congregation with whom you generally hang out, and who seem to like you? Hopefully somebody likes you, right? J If you can’t think of anybody who likes you, try to put me on the list. If you don’t think my name belongs there, come talk to me. If we only hang out with people who like us and who we like, our spiritual gifts may not be fully exercised. Taking it further, are there people who you do not speak with, mostly avoid, and who seem to not like you? Well, it may be because of something you have done, or it may be your imagination. Whatever the case, be the mature one—try to enter into relationships with people in the body of Christ who you think do not like you. Check it out, it’s time to reconsider your loyalty and evaluate it based on God’s instructions against favoritism. “Don’t show favoritism!” James 2:1.