Guarding Your Motives
“If a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?” (James 2:2-4).
Favoritism is motivated by an evil desire to gain some advantage for yourself.
The story is told of a pastor who never ministered to an individual or family in his church without first checking a current record of their financial contributions. The more generous they were with their money, the more generous he was with his time. That’s an appalling and flagrant display of favoritism, but in effect it’s the same kind of situation James dealt with in our text for today.
Picture yourself in a worship service or Bible study when suddenly two visitors enter the room. The first visitor is a wealthy man, as evidenced by his expensive jewelry and designer clothes. The second visitor lives in abject poverty. The street is his home, as evidenced by his filthy, smelly, shabby clothing.
How would you respond to each visitor? Would you give the rich man the best seat in the house and see that he is as comfortable as possible? That’s a gracious thing to do if your motives are pure. But if you’re trying to win his favor or profit from his wealth, a vicious sin has taken hold of you.
Your true motives will be revealed in the way you treat the poor man. Do you show him equal honor, or simply invite him to sit on the floor? Anything less than equal honor reveals an evil intent.
Favoritism can be subtle. That’s why you must be in prayer and in the Word, constantly allowing the Spirit to penetrate and purify your deepest, most secret motives.
Suggestions for Prayer
Praise God for His purity.
Ask Him always to control your motives and actions.
For Further Study
Some Christians confuse honor with partiality. Giving honor to those in authority is biblical; showing partiality is sinful. Read 1 Peter 2:17 and Romans 13:1, noting the exhortations to honor those in authority over you.