You can learn a lot about a person by seeing how they treat others. There are many ways we can treat people.
We can treat people with neglect. When we treat people with neglect we basically act as if they don’t exist. We make all our plans without even considering other people and their needs because all that matters is us and what we want.
We can treat people with contempt. When we treat people with contempt, we act as though they are not worthy of our respect. The main reason that we treat people with contempt is that we feel that we are better than they are. While there are any number of reasons that make us feel superior to others, the result is the same. We treat them with contempt.
We can treat people as a nuisance. When we treat people as a nuisance, we tend to act as though their very existence is bothersome to us. We view everything about them like fingernails on a chalkboard. It doesn’t matter what they do, they are going to get on our nerves.
We can treat people as enemies. When we treat people as enemies we oppose anything they say and do. We will almost act as though their every action and word was a personal shot against us. When we treat people as our enemies we are offended and angered by virtually everything they do because we interpret their every action in the worst possible way.
We can treat people with love. When we treat people with love we are careful not to be neglectful of them and their needs. When we treat people with love we never want to make them feel inferior to us. When we treat people with love we are not annoyed by their existence. When we treat people with love we give them the benefit of the doubt and don’t instantly assume that they are taking personal shots against us.
Which of these best describes the way we treat people? What does the way we treat people say about us? As followers of Jesus an important question for us to answer is, how should we treat people? Our faith in Jesus should affect every area of our lives and every relationship in our lives. Our faith in Jesus should dictate how we treat other people. This is seen all throughout Scripture, but it is very plain in James 2.
James argues against prejudice and for the necessity of good works. Both impartiality, and good works have the same motivation, faith in Jesus. Those who genuinely have faith in Jesus treat people impartially, and they are active in their service to Jesus.
“My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.” James 2:1 (NKJV)
This verse is kinda the key to this section so let’s break it down. “My brothers” James is addressing believers to instruct them on how to live out their faith in Jesus.
“With partiality” or as the NIV says, “Don’t show favoritism.” Favoritism, as it’s meant here, is similar to prejudice. With favoritism, you like one group more than another. With prejudice, you dislike one group more than the another. As it’s used here, favoritism means more than, “I like my wife more than I like you.” It would be more accurate to say it as, the group I like better, I treat better. The group I like less, I treat worse. James gives us an illustration of this.
“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,” James 2:2-3 (NKJV)
Favoritism, I like rich people better so I treat them better. I like poor people less so I treat them worse. You could replace rich and poor for
Black and White
Democrat and Republican
English Speakers and Non-English Speakers
Men and Women
Homosexuals and Heterosexuals
Muslims and Jews
Americans and Any Other Nationality.
There is virtually no limit to the ways that this can be lived out in our lives. James is a pretty plain spoken guy and he has some tough words about this sort of partiality.
“have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” James 2:4 (NKJV)
The sort of favoritism, or prejudice, described in verses 2-3 shows that we have set ourselves up as judges that determine who is good and bad, who is worthy or not worthy. This sort of judgment always originates with evil thoughts or as the NLT says, “evil motives.” The word evil is a word that we need to key in on. The sort of favoritism, or prejudice, described in verses 2-3 always flow out of EVIL thoughts or EVIL motives.
The sort of favoritism, or prejudice described in verses 2-3 is the opposite of how believers in Jesus are supposed to live. So how are we supposed to live? That’s what I’m going to blog about the rest of the week.
So how do you treat people? What does that say about you?