Meditation Commentary on James 2:1-4
1My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” 4have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
This passage is very convicting to me and raises questions such as, “How do I treat fellow Christians?” And, “What is my outlook on non-believers?”
The word “partiality,” used in the first verse, comes from the Greek word, “prosopolepsia,” which also means, “respect of persons.” Often, I find myself looking at people from the outward appearance and sometimes judging them by what I see. I have to remind myself to look at people in the way that Christ would look at them. As Christians, we should never “respect” one person more than another just because of the way they look. I often think of “The Golden Rule” as somewhat of a children’s term. However, Matthew is a very important verse for Christians to meditate and act upon. It says, “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” If I take verses 2 and 3 of James 2, and replace the poor man with my name, I think of it in a different light!
My dad, who is a deacon at our church, has a perfect real-life story in which this passage applies. One Sunday morning, after the church service had started, my dad was standing in the vestibule when a shabbily-dressed lady off of the street walked up to him to ask for some monetary help. She told him how here and some friends were on their way from one state to another, and were out of money. Dad told here that the man from the church that she needed to talk to about finances was taking part in the service, and she would need to wait until it was over to speak with him. Dad invited her to sit in the church service until he was available. She informed my father that one of the ushers had already told her that she could not enter. He assured her that she was more than welcome to go into church and directed her to a seat. After the service was over, the lady walked up to my dad in tears; and after talking with her he was able to lead her to a saving-knowledge of Christ! For all I know, this lady may have never become a Christian if my dad had not looked at her through the eyes of Christ. It is obvious that the usher (whom I do not know) who turned her away had either never read this passage, or had discarded it altogether.
The last verse in this passage speaks very strongly against anyone who shows partiality in situations such as this. James directly addresses this: “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.”