Favoritism in the Church (James 2:1-4)

First Baptist Church https://fbcbartow.org

“Favoritism in the Church”

(James 2:1-4)

Series: Living the Faith [on screen]

Rev. Matthew C. McCraw, EdD

First Baptist Church, Bartow, Florida

December 10, 2017

Opening Song: Joy to the World


Good morning, church.  We are joyful, indeed, because our Lord has come!  Please be seated.

We’re so glad that each and every one of you are here today!

My name is Matt McCraw and I’m the pastor here at First Baptist Church of Bartow.

I’m glad to see you all.  If you’re a guest, please take some time to fill out the “What’s Up?” card in the bulletin.  You can drop that off in the offering plate later in the service.  We would love to have a record of your visit with us!

This morning we will be in James 2:1-4.  You can go ahead and find your place there for later in the service.

Lottie Moon Emphasis

We are continuing our Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions!

Let’s check out this quick video about the offering.

Our goal this year is $12,500, which we hope to collect all in the month of December.  Giving envelopes are in the envelope slots in the backs of the pews.  Church, I’d love to see us double our goal!

Tonight we will have our missions fair here in our Ministry Center fellowship hall.  That will be tonight at 5:30 p.m..

As we come to worship, let’s focus our hearts and minds by turning to the Word of God.

This month we are celebrating the birth of our Savior. Let’s focus now on what the apostle John tells us in the book of John, chapter 1.

Scripture Reading

Read John 1:1-5, 9-14 (CSB)

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 That light shines in the darkness, and yet the darkness did not overcome it . . . 9 The true light that gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was created through him, and yet the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, 13 who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God. 14 The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.



Stand, now, as we continue to sing to our Lord!

(worship through music time)

Introductory Comments

Alright, church!  Let’s get to it!

We have finished James chapter 1 and now we are moving into chapter 2.

Towards the end of chapter 1 James was starting to speak about what it means to really live out our faith, now he is continuing that theme further in chapter 2.

In the first part of chapter 2 James is going to speak to us about relating to other people and doing so while being led in the faith that we profess.

Later, in the second part of the chapter, James will talk about those who claim to have faith but don’t back it up with their works.

There’s so much good stuff coming up, church!

As we think about this continuing conversation regarding genuine faith and how it affects our lives, I want to read this quote for you.

This came from a commentary that I read this week.  The author says, “I am convinced the deep, dark secret of our religious subculture in the southern United States is that we want Christianity and we want church on our terms, according to our preferences, aligning with our lifestyles. We are a people happy to go to church just so long as nothing in our lives has to change. We are a people glad to be Christians so long as we can define Christianity according to what accommodates us. The only problem is that in order for the religion of Christianity to be authentic, true, and actually acceptable before God, we have to let Him define what it looks like. And His definition of religion, His definition of true Christianity, is radically different than ours.”

Church, God is calling us, through the book of James, to true Christianity.

In chapter 2, James is going to press us further into this discussion.

He starts chapter 2 by talking again about the poor and the rich.  Remember that he has already discussed the poor and the rich in chapter 1 verses 9-11.

He now goes here again to point us to a picture of true Christianity.

James repeatedly wants to give us a picture of what it really looks like to live as a genuine Christian, and boy do we need this.

We need to know how God wants us to live because we are so quick to stray away from the genuine thing.  We are so apt to make up our own version of Christianity.

We need the book of James!

Let’s look at the passage together.

Read the Passage

Read James 2:1-4

1 My brothers and sisters, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. 2 For if someone comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor person dressed in filthy clothes also comes in, 3 if you look with favor on the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here in a good place,” and yet you say to the poor person, “Stand over there,” or “Sit here on the floor by my footstool,” 4 haven’t you made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?


Let’s pray together.


As we dive into this passage some more I want to go ahead and let you know that we will be talking about favoritism and distinctions; particularly concerning the rich and the poor.

The first thing that James points out is . . .

I. Favoritism Forbidden (v. 1) [on screen]

James says very clearly, “Do not show favoritism.”  It is forbidden.

James not only says not to show favoritism, but he adds this qualifying statement; he says, “as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Jesus Christ.”

I believe what James is saying here is, “since you hold on to this faith in Jesus Christ.”

Since you are a Christian, you are not to show favoritism.

I think James is going back to a theme that he has already established: genuine godly faith requires genuine godly action. There is no place for favoritism in Christianity.

We know from the verses that follow that James is speaking specifically about favoritism that centers on wealth and poverty.  However, this principle of not showing favoritism would certainly translate beyond that realm.

Well, what makes showing favoritism in the church incompatible with Christianity?

I’m glad you asked!

First, we must remember that God is so much richer than each and every one of us!  Yet, He descended upon us who were poor to show us the richness of His love.

All of us are undeserving of the riches of God’s love!  We received what we did not deserve.

How could we ever discriminate against other people as if some are worthy of God’s love because of their riches and some are not because of their poverty?

Further, that question brings us to the important point of reminding ourselves that poverty and riches bring us no greater value in the sight of God.

Remember, in chapter 1 that James pointed out what really matters is who we are in Jesus, not our wealth, and certainly not the wealth of others.

We should not show any type of favor, or partiality, based on what the world says is desirable or valuable.

We are to love those that are a part of our church based on the fact that they are our brothers and sisters in Christ and based on that fact alone!


Think about also, church, how much we hate favoritism.

Do you remember when you were a kid and your parents showed favoritism to your sibling?  Or, at least, you thought they did?

Or in politics, or the workplace, or on a sports team or extracurricular activity?

We hate favoritism, don’t we?

So, does God!

We are not to claim to be believers and then show favoritism based on worldly standards.

We are not to treat poor people badly and rich people kindly.  Likewise, we are not to treat rich people badly and poor people kindly.  You see, that’s the point.  We treat people equally because of who we are in Christ and who they are in Christ.

So, we see that favoritism is forbidden by James.


Similarly, we learn that distinctions are disallowed.

II. Distinctions Disallowed (vv. 2-4) [on screen]

Not only are we not to show favoritism, but we are also not to make distinctions.

Listen again to what James says.

(Read James 2:2-4)

2 For if someone comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor person dressed in filthy clothes also comes in, 3 if you look with favor on the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here in a good place,” and yet you say to the poor person, “Stand over there,” or “Sit here on the floor by my footstool,” 4 haven’t you made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

James gives us a very clear and practical example of what he’s talking about.  He almost seems to anticipate someone asking, “Can you give us an example of what you mean?”

He gives us this example of a rich person being given a place of prominence and the place of lowliness to the person of poverty.

Can you just imagine this, church?

Just picture this; it may help some of you to close your eyes and picture this. Just picture a gathering of believers that are meeting together and these two people enter the assembly. One, the wealthy man, is given the place of prominence, perhaps the best seat in the room.  The other, the poor man, is told to sit on the floor, by the footstool, perhaps in the place of the servant.  So much is communicated by this picture.

It is not our place to make distinctions between persons beyond that which the Bible tells us.

Let me be clear about this. There are places in the Bible that give us allowances for how we should make distinctions.

For example: In the church, we are told to make distinctions among those who choose to follow Christ in repentance and obedience versus those who are unrepentant and in continual repeated sin.

We are told to make distinctions among those whom we should marry.  We are not to be married to unbelievers if we are followers of Jesus. We are not to marry the same gender if we are followers of Jesus.

We have distinctions in how we choose pastors in a church.  A pastor must be a man who is committed to his family, is able to teach, is of noble character, etcetera.

So, you see, we do make distinctions whenever God makes them for us.

However, God does not tell us to give honor to someone based on their worldly wealth. This is against the Word of God.

James says that if we do make these distinctions that we become judges with evil thoughts.

When we begin to make these distinctions; when we begin to make these judgments we are led not by the Spirit of God, but by evil thoughts.

You see, we are not morally equipped on our own to make these kinds of judgments.  This is God’s job.  We use His Word as our guide, not our own thoughts and certainly not the standards of this world.

There are other places where we may be tempted to show favoritism or make distinctions.  We may do so with wealth, as James mentions; or with appearance; race or nationality; mental competency; age; or any number of other areas.

How sad would it be church if we are preventing people from being a part of our fellowship, or from participating in the full life of the church because they don’t look the way we look, dress the way we dress, have the possessions that we have, or in a way that impresses us.  May it never be true for First Baptist Church Bartow and if it is, may we repent and turn from our wicked ways!


The things of this world and human distinctions do not serve as distinctions before God, and they should not before the people of God.

The equalizer for the people of God is the cross of Jesus Christ!

If you want to be a member of this family of God, come before the cross of Jesus and submit yourself to Him and humbly pursue Him by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Be changed by Jesus and be made new!

Concluding Thoughts:

We must ask, church, what unites us, first and foremost, as First Baptist Church of Bartow?  Is it our heritage?  Our race?  Our economic make-up?  Our speech?  Or, is it the cross of Jesus Christ

If we are right with God, if we are right with God’s Word, the other things will fall into place.  So, are we right with God?  Are we right with God’s Word?


Here’s our bottom line for the week:

Bottom Line: Followers of Jesus must not show favoritism and distinctions birthed from evil thoughts.   [on screen]

Listen now to our weekly challenge:

Weekly Challenge: [on screen]

  1. Reach out to someone this week that is different than you. [on screen]

Just different.

Do this on your own.

Share the love of Jesus with someone.

Reach out to someone in our church who may be different than you.

  1. Unite our church around Jesus and His work. [on screen]

Let’s make the main thing the main thing.

Let’s unify around Jesus!

Whatever it takes!


The good news of the gospel is that no matter who we are, we are made new in Jesus.

Rich or poor.  Jew or Gentile. Red, yellow, black, or white. Male or female. Simple or sophisticated.

We can come to Jesus!

Come to Jesus now!

(Gospel Presentation)

(Instructions for invitation)



Invitation Song: Trust and Obey


Don’t forget to invite your neighbors, family, co-workers, and strangers to our Christmas Eve service.  We want to have a lot of folks here for Christmas Eve!  We will have a Christmas Eve breakfast at 10 a.m. and our worship service at 11 a.m..  Be sure to bring a dish for breakfast as you would normally do.

At the end of each pew, you’ll see some invitations for you to handout.  Each of you please take two to three to pass out.

This afternoon we are hosting the community sing of Handel’s Messiah. That will be in this room at 4 p.m..

Also, don’t forget about our Missions Fair at 5:30 p.m. in the Ministry Center. Let’s celebrate international missions together.  I hope to see you there!

Church, it’s been a pleasure to be with you today.  God bless you.  Let’s sing the Doxology as we dismiss.

Sing Doxology

COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: The text contained in this sermon is solely owned by its author. The reproduction, or distribution of this message, or any portion of it, should include the author’s name. The author intends to provide free resources in order to inspire believers and to assist preachers and teachers in Kingdom work.