Written by: Makayla Czeder
Published by Woodside Bible Church, www.woodsidebible.org
What Do You Prefer?
Do you ever wonder if your taste or style is truly and authentically yours? Or if it’s something you’ve been influenced to like by the greater culture and norms?
I have often asked myself why I gravitate towards specific colors, designs, products, etc. Is it always because I genuinely like it, or is it possible I think I like something because I’ve been told through various messaging and advertising that it’s what I should like? It can be difficult to avoid falling into this trap since we’re so easily influenced. And that’s why I’m grateful for the Bible. The world may look different now, yet God’s Word still applies to every human experience we could possibly have here on earth. He knew we’d fall into the trap of valuing what the world says we should value over what He has made truly valuable.
James 2:1–7 states:
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
I love these verses because they couldn’t ring truer today regardless of them being written so long ago. How often are we guilty of making snap judgments and assuming the best or worst about people, solely based on the clothes in which they showed up to church? Or the car they drive? Or maybe the fact that they don’t have a car.
The world idolizes and worships money. Wealth and power are age-old temptations that have hurt countless people since the beginning of time. And even though we know this, we still internalize the mindset that money equals status and worth. I think this is especially true for those of us in the western world. Here, the broader culture has taught us individualism is best and life’s end goal is to be top dog, even if it’s all by yourself.
So, what does this have to do with the passage from James?
In His infinite wisdom, God knew that the love of money and status wasn’t going anywhere soon. So, in His kindness, He left us wisdom in the book of James that warns us against valuing people for what we think they can bring to the table. In the above passage, James gives us an example of people favoring the wealthy because of their possessions (a gold ring and fine clothing) and then disregarding the poor man’s dignity altogether. What if Jesus did that with us?
If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that we can bring absolutely nothing to the table in comparison to the Savior of the world. That’s why we needed a Savior to begin with, right? We are poor in every sense of the word without Jesus.
And yet, He did not look at us and say, “stand over there.” Instead, He says, “follow me.” He says, “I love you.” He calls us sons and daughters. He deemed us deserving when we were anything but. So, wouldn’t it make sense as believers for us to take a step back and do the same?
It’s really easy to think we should value something because the world values it. Every day, we’re surrounded by messages telling us what we should think, what we should like, who we should deem worthy, and who we shouldn’t. But we need to remember: though we’re in the world, we’re not of it.
1️⃣ When you pray, ask God to continually give you eyes to see and ears to hear this truth. Ask Him to allow you to see the world and people through His eyes so that your heart will break for the things that break His heart and will value each person the way He does.
2️⃣ Pray also for discernment when it comes to people and their hearts. Just because someone has all the things this world deems valuable does not mean their heart is in the right place or they will lead you down a path that points to Jesus. Pray you can see past the outer shell and into the true person.
3️⃣ Remember the mercy we’ve been given and graciously show mercy to others in return. Jesus did not have to deem us worthy of taking on our sin and taking our place on the cross. But He did.
In humility, let’s remember we’ve been given a gift we could never earn and are called to share freely with everyone. Let’s look at people through a different set of eyes: God’s.