2 For 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, 3 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,” 4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?
James makes his point here with a simple illustration that can be applied to many situations in our lives. The gold ring and fine clothes: symbols of high status and wealth in those times. The footstool is regarded as a lowly, even servant like place. In doing this, James says, we make ourselves judges of who is better than whom. Who are we to judge?
It is easy and natural for us to favor those in high positions. Especially when they have power over us of some sort, like the owner of our company, the head of our church, etc. Note, James isn’t saying here that they should be disregarded because of their status, rather that nobody should be disregarded period.
Think about how the Pharisees used to scoff at Jesus for associating with “sinners” – the detestable people in society’s standard. Notice that it was something worth mentioning? It was something worth questioning, at which time Christ offered His apt reply. I realize this opens the door for us to do such things with the motivation of “proving” ourselves. We must be careful to always check our hearts and make sure we are doing things for the right reasons (selfless) instead of to boast or increase our worldly gain.
So, who are we to say who is higher than the other? If we represent Christ as Christians, then we are to love unconditionally. It shouldn’t matter who or how someone is in regards to how we treat them. We are called to treat everyone equally with love and in so doing we are worshiping God. To love and serve God is to do so by loving and serving others, not for gain or praise but because He asks us to.
How can you love God be loving others today, especially the unloved?