Try looking up Psalm 119:10-16 and praying it to God. Paraphrase it to include yourself as you pray.
James 2:1-7 My brothers and sisters, do not show prejudice if you possess faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if someone comes into your assembly wearing a gold ring and fine clothing, and a poor person enters in filthy clothes, do you pay attention to the one who is finely dressed and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and to the poor person, “You stand over there,” or “Sit on the floor”? If so, have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my dear brothers and sisters! Did not God choose the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor! Are not the rich oppressing you and dragging you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme the good name of the one you belong to?
In your own words, what was happening in the churches James was writing to, according to these verses?
Does it sound familiar at all?
Digging below the surface
Define “prejudice.” In what ways can Christians show prejudice toward each other?
How does God feel about prejudice?
How does God view wealth? Does it matter to him how rich someone is?
Making it stick
Have you been on the receiving end of prejudice? How did that make you feel?
As you’ve been thinking through this, has God made you aware of any prejudice in your own heart?
James addresses the Christ-followers kindly. They’re on the same team, he points out. We’re all following the amazing, wonderful, glorious Lord Jesus Christ, together. Jesus loves everyone equally. He gave his life for everyone regardless of age, money, social status, etc.
1 Peter 1:17 says God doesn’t show “the slightest favoritism” (Phillips). Yet how quickly I make distinctions. Nice clothes, nice car, corporate job = important person. Dirty t-shirt and jeans, beater car (or none), works shift work, unemployed = less important person.
Or, breaking it down further… Someone who is socially awkward, too friendly or too needy = less important. Someone who may actually be poor but maybe just looking for drug money = less important.
People in a different social class than we are don’t usually live in our standard of “normal.” Their baggage looks different – sometimes messier than ours – and we hesitate to rub shoulders with them. But what makes our standard of normal the only valid one? There will always be people with more or less money than you and I. We’re not the ones who get to make distinctions.
In another passage (Romans 14:15), the Bible speaks of seeing others as the people “for whom Christ died.” Jesus sees every person as worth giving everything for.
I should see others through the eyes of God’s grace and love and reach out to them with that motivation.
Lord, to be really honest, I struggle to know how to reach out to people who seem “poor” to me, especially when they cross the understood boundaries of society. When I see someone needy, too often I judge them or worry that they’re going to hurt me or take too much from me. God, I really want to love like you do. I want to be wise but I want to be courageous in how I love. Show me what distinctions I’m making. Show me how to serve others without asking what’s in it for me. Show me just how deep your love for me and for others really is.