We live in a society that attaches value to appearances. Looks and credentials, physical beauty and popularity are some of the things that our culture celebrates. You can’t turn on your television in the evening without being bombarded with constant commercials trying to sale you some cosmetic product or weight loss program. We make a big deal about our pictures on social media, and self-worth is determined by how many likes we get. James shows us in this passage how our value as people is not based on appearances or social status. He expresses particular concern about favoritism that was being shown to some in the church while others were being ostracized and treated with contempt. Sadly, it was all based on appearances.
All of us are partial to particular people and to particular things. We like certain things, and we like to be around people who are like us. We are deeply preferential in our hearts. Understand that he is not saying that we should be without our individual personalities. Rather, he is simply telling believers to not allow preference and partiality to dictate behavior in the church. A person’s status should never become the basis of whether or not you have fellowship with him or her.
When we consider the ministry of Jesus, it becomes obvious that He was no respecter of persons. He was the ‘Friend’ of sinners. He associated with the lowly. He wasn’t impressed by people who looked good on the outside. Instead of looking at outward appearances, He looked at the heart. Instead of judging others on the basis of past failure, He saw future potential. Instead of making outward appearance His primary concern, He saw the inward attitude of the heart.
He served. He loved. He gave. And appearances didn’t matter to Him. Neither should they matter to us. God help us to look at every single person through the eyes of our Savior. The ground is level at the foot of the cross!
For more, read James 2:1-13