Words of Worth

Playing Favorites

October 17, 2015

Playing favorites

The Smothers Brothers, Tom and Dick, are probably most remembered for Tom’s line to Dick, “Mom always liked you best.” Regardless of the comedy routine the brothers were doing, that phrase would inevitably become part of the skit.

Mom always liked you best

I have two brothers, Ron and Rick, and while they never did stand-up comedy, they did become unwillingly involved in a “playing favorites tradition” that I initiated. As the only daughter of my parents, it wasn’t enough for me that I was their favorite daughter. I wanted to be the favorite child period. For several years running, I went to great lengths at Thanksgiving and Christmas family gatherings to declare my status as the favored child. “Twas the Night before Sheryl’s Birth” replaced Clement Moore’s well-known, “Twas the Night before Christmas”. The spirit was one of wholesome fun and everyone is comfortable with the fact that my parents like me best 🙂

However, James writes in his New Testament letter (James 2:1):

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.

Those of us who profess the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ should not show respect to men so as to lessen the glory of Christ. James described as sin, and warned against, respecting the rich over the poor (James 2:2-5):

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? 5 Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?

In matters of religion, the rich man and the poor man stand on a level playing field, and no man’s riches set him nearer to God, just as no man’s poverty sets him at a distance from God. Being a respecter of persons is a serious sin because it is directly contrary to the nature of God, who has chosen the poor of the world to be rich in faith.

James does not just condemn partiality, but he continued by providing a way to correct this matter. He said we have the law to guide us in how we are to treat others in general and show both the rich and poor an equitable regard (James 2:8-9):

8 If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.

“Mom always liked you best”, and “Sheryl is the favorite child”, is pure, wholesome fun. But showing partiality to the rich over the poor is serious business. It contradicts the faith we should have and it contradicts the Father who is always the impartial God!

For there is no partiality with God
Romans 2:11

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