You remember that time, don't you? That time out on the playground, during recess, when all the kids stood around in silence as the "captains" began to pick the kids they wanted for their kickball teams. It's all coming back isn't it?
It was a terrible time. One of the most high anxiety moments of any kids grade school career. Of course, it lasted longer for some than it did for others. Some kids would get picked quickly (the cheerleader, the really sporty kid, and the most popular kid in class). But then the crowd would start thinning out.
If you were still left after most of the kids got picked, you began to pray. Silently pray. "God, I'll do anything for You. I'll go to Africa. I'll start an orphanage. I'll give all my money to You and live in a cardboard box. Just, PLEASE, don't let me be picked...LAST!"
CHOSEN OR CHOOSING
This scenario really has a lot to do with which side of the fence you were on. Maybe you weren't the worst player, and so you got picked in the middle almost every time. Maybe you were among the last players picked each time, and you knew it was coming.
But maybe, in this scenario, you were the picker. The captain. The one in control. You got to make all the selections. You got to choose from all the kids there. You got to put the people you wanted on your team...or at least until you got down to the last few. Then, it wasn't such an easy choice.
When you're choosing, those last few choices are based on an entirely different set of rules. You are no longer looking for the player that is going to help you the most. No. Now you are hoping to pick the player that is going to hurt you the least. You've changed the way you view the remaining kids. Not intentionally, but still it changed.
James writes in chapter 2 of his book about the idea of favoritism. Here's what he said,
My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. - James 2:1
He goes on, in verses 2-7, to give an example of two men coming into your presence. One that looks AMAZING (nice clothes, fabulous jewelry, someone everyone wants to be around), and one that looks like trouble (poor, filthy, and someone who was probably picked last). And then there is a choice. A choice of who you will show kindness and hospitality to.
If you give all the attention to the first, and ignore the other, you have discriminated against someone simply because of their appearance or the assumption they can do nothing for you in return. James called this evil.
He finishes the example by saying,
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. - James 2:8-9
Essentially, you are to treat all people the same—as an image bearer of God. It doesn't matter what they can do for you. It doesn't matter their status, race, or background. Whether great or small, you are to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
TIME TO CHOOSE
Every day, we choose how we are going to treat the people in our lives. Sometimes they are close to us—family, friends, spouse. Sometimes they are our co-workers, neighbors, or acquaintances. Sometimes it's the complete strangers that cross our paths—other drivers on the road, a waitress, or the homeless on the street corner.
In every circumstance, we are to choose to love them as we love ourselves. It's a big job. It seems near impossible at times.
We still have our busy schedules, head aches, and disappointments. Sometimes we treat others the way that will benefit us the most. This is not love. Instead of choosing to give based on what we think we can get from someone, let's choose to give regardless of the outcome.
Choose. Choose to show love to that older person driving insanely slow in front of you. Choose to reach out to that family member, that you don't normally get along with, just to see how they are doing. Choose to work hard for your employer, even though you didn't get the promotion you wanted.
Because we have received mercy and grace in abundance, through no effort of our own. We should show that same mercy and grace to everyone around us. Black, white, rich, poor, sick, well, great, or small—God made them all and Jesus died for them all.
God, This world keeps telling me that it's what's on the outside of a person that matters most—and that I should care about what a person looks like or can offer me. Lord, I reject that. I want to show love, mercy, and grace to all those You bring into my path. Help me to love like You. Help me not to show favoritism in any way. I love you, and ask these things in Jesus name, Amen.