Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?. James 2, verses 2-4.
Here’s my timely confession where I failed just like the folks James is talking about. Last week, I flew from Minneapolis to Dallas, flying home after a long three days at work. When I got to the airport, Delta had upgraded me once again (it happens a lot) and once again I got the nice seat instead of the crowded seat in coach. Don’t get me wrong: I was thankful for it. But it went to my head, ya know?
As I’m waiting to board the plane, I saw a couple of kids also waiting. One had multiple piercings, tattoos, and bi-colored hair. She was wearing pajamas and flip flops. Her traveling partner had long red-haired dreadlocks and was dressed comparably, that is, shabby. From their interactions, I guessed they might be lesbians. Wouldn’t you know that they, too, got upgraded and sat in front of me.
Wanna know my first reaction? Eww. Gross. Can’t you people have a little self-respect? Show some courtesy and clean up already! Pleeeease!
There in that moment, I was the hypocrite James is talking about.
It doesn’t end there. Yesterday, when I flew back to Minneapolis, I saw them again. Again, I was upgraded, and again I boarded the plane. This time, they boarded and walked back to coach. My reaction? Same ‘eww.’ Same judging. Same discriminating in a sinful way. I was the same hypocrite. My reaction could have been “God bless em” or “I hope they had a good weekend.” Instead, I resorted to my defensive, go-to, first and sinful response of judging them sinfully.
How about you?
Jesus lived as God on earth, demonstrating his just love through all He said and did. He didn’t see Miss Red Dreads as a freak: He saw her as someone to love just as she is. He still sees her this way. He sees me and you this way. What James points out to us (on Jesus’ behalf) is that our only standard in judging people is to be Jesus. And then only for ourselves. We are to flee from sin and sinful inclinations but only by judging the situation against Jesus and what He would want. Not to hammer others, or keep us apart, or to judge them harshly…like I did.
Jesus, forgive me for failing to love as You love. Forgive me, speak through me, and teach me to do better in the situations I encounter today.
How have you judged incorrectly?
What does Jesus say to you in those moments?
What are you prepared to do about that?