Wk 4 // Big Jim // Overcoming Favoritism
Would you say that you are good at first impressions? Have you ever made an incorrect or unfair judgement against someone based on a first impression?
When that happens, would you say the error in judgment comes from you, or from something the other person did? How do you let your impression of a person affect the way you treat them?
In our current cultural moment, snap judgments are more prevalent than they have ever been—at least, social media and the 24-hour news cycles make it seem that way. Many of the messages we hear are partisan, and they are designed to divide rather than unite.
Because of this, we consciously and subconsciously favor certain groups of people over others based on superficial differences. We can all agree that this is unhealthy, yet sinful patterns of prejudice and favoritism are so deeply ingrained in the way that we live, we hardly notice it. God’s Word calls us to shine a light into our own hearts, for the way we behave toward people reflects what we really believe about God.
In this week’s message, Pastor Mike shared James’ instructions to make sure we do not show favoritism in the church or with other people when we are called to share God’s love.
Spend a few minutes recapping this week's sermon together. Click here to view the sermon notes.
What was one takeaway from this week's sermon for you?
Were there any stories, ideas, or points that stuck out?
Was there anything that challenged you?
Have a volunteer read James 2:1-4.
The word translated “favoritism” is only used a handful of times in the New Testament, and it means to be a “respecter of persons.” What is the situation James describes in these verses?
Is the situation James describes from the distant past or something that is very much a part of Christian culture today?
What is the root issue of favoritism and prejudice? Though James is describing the worship of the church, how does this extend beyond the context of a worship service? Where else have you observed prejudice and favoritism?
In the early church, an apparent tendency to favor the rich over the poor caused the rich to get prioritized treatment in Christian worship. Though this is the situation that James is addressing, this kind of favoritism happens in every area of life. Favoritism is an especially heinous sin because it suggests that God has made some to be more special than others. It is a failure to regard people the way that God sees them. God is not interested in the exterior, but the interior (1 Sam. 16:7, Jer. 17:10).
James said prejudice is wrong because it is inconsistent with God’s character. Read the following verses and take notice of God’s character:
God does not play favorites because God is loving, and love and prejudice do not coincide. He sees all on the basis of their relationship with Him. Favoritism is theologically inconsistent with Christian faith. God looks to the heart of a man, which is the reason we play favorites and God doesn’t.
Why should Christians, above all others, be willing to look beyond the surface to see the heart?
How should what Christ did for us motivate us to live? How is it motivating and challenging you?
Have a volunteer read James 2:8-13.
What sins did James equate with favoritism? Why do we not think about treating others as “less than” as a serious sin? How often do you excuse this sin in others and in yourself?
Favoritism is a sin just as grave and serious as murder or adultery. Just because it’s easier to hide doesn’t make it right. Jesus provided the perfect example of love and sacrifice. His disciples were uneducated common men (Acts 4:13), tax collectors (Matt. 9:9), political zealots, and sinners. The commandment was new because we are to love as Jesus loved us. He is perfectly loving and merciful to us.
Are there any areas where favoritism has taken root in your life?
How can we ensure that our church is a place where all people can feel comfortable and accepted?
How does showing favoritism endanger our witness before a non-believing culture?
Ask God to show you any hidden favoritism in your life so that you can repent. Ask the Spirit to help you see people as God does and love others as Jesus did.