My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. (James 2:1 ESV)
Don’t you love words in foreign languages? I do. The word found in today’s article title is Greek. It’s interesting how various translators and Bible paraphrasers choose to represent this word.
KJV; GSV; YLT: “respect”
NIV; CSB; NASB; TLB: “favoritism”
NKJV; ESV: “partiality”
While studying this passage, I looked at over twenty translations and paraphrases. Some only represented an idea, and not a translation at all. Many others used the words above, or concentrated on the emotional meaning of “partiality.”
Before directing our thoughts devotionally today, let me take a few moments to tell you just a bit about this rather large contraction.
Basically, the word “Prospolmpsiais” is a combination of “prosópon,” which we might translate as “front view,” and “lambanó,” which means “to take.” We might say this word means “to take something at face value.”
There’s more; it’s not only taking something at face value, it’s overvaluing face value, and not looking for more than face value, and not looking beyond the initial appearance.
In context, which, by the way, would be the whole book of James, and then James 2:1-13, the Apostle James is talking about showing favor to the rich, discriminating against the poor, and fulfilling the royal law of love. I want to open that can of blessed worms today when a three-fold truth-telling.
First, if anyone always deserves praise, recognition, and special favor, it is “…the Lord of glory.” Amen.
In any gathering of the people of God, put Jesus first. Hold Him up highest. Consider Him greatest. He is preeminent!
Secondly, we believers ought to be more than surface level folks. Let me make a word up here: “deep-looking-and-much-thinking.” Yes, I like it; we should be deep-looking-and-much-thinking people. We should not be people who look at things simply at first glance, surface level. We should be the sort of disciples of Jesus that as soon as something is before us, we are considering it together, putting the matter before Him, seeking His righteous wisdom, and coming to truth directed, love laden, Kingdom oriented conclusions.
Do you see, dear friends, that this is commitment to thoughtful processing? That is commitment to discovering both the mind and the heart of God in all matters, with all persons, at all times.
That being said, we all always ought to know that there is more to every person than meets the eye. We should work to get to know people, and, no matter what material resources they possess or not, we should see them as image bearers, fully deserving of granted respect.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, if we want to learn anything about respecting people, let’s look at way God deals with people. First, let’s see how God treats people in general, and then, in His incarnation, let’s consider how Jesus treated people in specific.
Look at these three verses:
“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe.” (Deuteronomy 10:17 ESV)
“So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality…” (Acts 10:34 ESV)
“For God shows no partiality.” (Romans 2:11 ESV)
There are more verses, but we get the picture. God is not impressed by riches, and does not disdain the poor. Those of great deeds and accomplishments do not impress God, and those of humble works are not ignored by God.
Now, think about the earthly ministry of Jesus:
•The very Jewish Jesus spent time talking to a Samaritan woman (see John 4:1-43).
•Jesus welcomed children (see Matthew 19:13-15).
•Jesus redeemed hated tax collectors (see Matthew 9:13-15 and Luke 19:1-10).
•Jesus allowed a woman with an issue of blood to touch Him (Mark 5:25-34).
•He dealt with the demon possessed, the dead, the lame, on and on and on.
The beat up, beat down, wore out, broken, hurting, marginalized, poor, insane, rich, unpopular, coarse, ordinary, sinful, and sorry – and even more – were all sheep without a shepherd in the sight of Jesus. Everyone was a person of dignity and value, and no one was too high or too low for His ministry.
As usual, we have a lot to learn from Jesus.
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