In His dealings with humans, the God of heaven “shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34). Indeed, “. . . there is no partiality with God” (Romans 2:11). The great I AM treats every single person as someone special, showing no favoritism or respect of persons.
As frail people, we sometimes struggle to avoid acting partially. Surely we do not intend to pre-judge a person without knowing the facts of his life and character, nor do we desire to mistreat or slight others due to our preconceived ideas; but, alas, on occasion partiality raises its ugly head in our lives.
The Bible’s message about showing partiality is too plain to miss. Hear these clear-cut instructions for all of God’s people: “My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality . . . but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:1,9). There is no doubt about it: being prejudiced and partial in our treatment of others is forbidden.
As a child of God, He charges me to “be tenderhearted, be courteous” (1 Peter 3:8). That is what my Lord expects of me, regardless of the people with whom I am dealing. If Jesus calls on me to love my enemies (Matthew 5:44), then surely I ought to treat those with whom I am not well-acquainted in a fair, kind, and loving manner.
How well do you and I pass the impartiality test? When a brother who has great material riches visits us, do we make a special effort to show him kindness and hospitality, but at the same time look down on and willfully ignore a poor brother who attends our services? God’s attitude toward such an approach is revealed in James 2:2-4: “For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and say to the poor man, ‘You stand there,’ or, ‘Sit here at my footstool,’ have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” Surely it is plain that a person’s character and relationship with God have nothing to do with his financial status! Let us beware, lest we either resent the wealthy or fail to respect those who are poor in this world’s material goods.
What about a person’s family background? If we meet a sister in the Lord whose parents were imprisoned for immoral business practices, do we treat her differently than we do a sister who is the granddaughter of a faithful elder? If neither of the sisters is responsible for her family’s past choices, whether good or evil, why the partiality in how we treat them? Take a good look at Ezekiel 18:10-28.
One man’s education did not extend beyond the first year of middle school because his father died and he had to go to work to help provide for his mother and younger siblings. Does that mean that he is less intelligent than a young man who was able to study abroad and earn a doctoral degree? It does not. Should we conclude that the one who was blessed to study more extensively is a better quality person, just because he spent more time learning in educational institutions? We should not. Brethren, the greatest in the Kingdom is one who serves humbly (Mark 9:33-35). Let us avoid the temptations to be jealous of the educationally blessed and despise those whose educational opportunities were more limited.
One foreign couple visits us from a country which we really like, and we talk endlessly about how wonderful they are. Another couple, both of them faithful servants of Jesus for decades, lives among us on a daily basis and we hardly notice their faithful services provided. Why should those of one particular nation be given preferential treatment?
One person is blessed with good language skills. He communicates well in more than one language. Another person struggles to put together a complete, coherent sentence in my mother tongue. Should I treat the one who is language-challenged with disdain, rudeness, and zero patience? I can tell you, brothers and sisters, I have been in situations where I struggled to speak rationally or understand what others said to me. Did that make either me or those with whom I tried to communicate stupid or lower-class people? It did not. People who do not understand us or cannot express themselves well in a particular language are not the scum of the earth, and they deserve to be treated with decency, human dignity, and a kind spirit, just like anyone else does. Young people, are you listening?
One sister’s skin is very pale. Another’s is a bit darker, and a third has skin that can only be described as “pure black.” Is one of these three deserving of preferential treatment due to her skin color? No. Should one of these three, simply due to the genetic makeup which she inherited, receive our disdain, sneers, and prejudice? God forbid.
One brother walks to work. Another rides public transportation. A third rides a bicycle, and a fourth drives a BMW. Which of the four deserves more respect and kindness from other members of God’s church? In fact, we should treat each of them with equal courtesy and respect. Basing our treatment of others on something as trivial as one’s mode of transportation does not demonstrate the spirit of the Christ, Who treated all humans with dignity, kindness, and respect. Are we listening?
— Roger D. Campbell