Love Without Favourites

Love Big

I remember an episode of a comedy show I really like where one of the main characters won’t let anyone use what she calls her ‘fancy China’ dinner service. It was a wedding gift and she couldn’t bear the thought of it somehow getting spoiled or broken.  In fact, she was saving it for in case the Queen visited!

Now, while the Queen is highly unlikely to visit any of us any time soon, it does beg the question: would we treat the Queen in our homes, churches, places of work any better than we would treat anybody else? Not that we shouldn’t be hospitable and warm and welcoming, and make the most of a visit that we may not ordinarily, often or ever get again. But do we naturally veer to showing some people more favour than others?

I remember a young girl many years ago who left school and got herself a perfectly respectable job. She was a good worker, part of the church worship band…but her peers had different plans for themselves. They all went off on short term missions, spending a summer at this camp, or a year with this youth mission group.

All of them were doing something entirely worthy.

But this young girl once told me how miserable it made her feel when her peers came home for weekends and were treated like celebrities. Everyone made a fuss of them, told them what amazing work they were doing for the kingdom, encouraged them, financed them, had them share their stories from the front of church…

We can say, on the face of it, there’s nothing wrong with this. When people go away for a spell, we can be glad to see them. We can want to hear their news. We can want to encourage them by helping them prayerfully, financially or otherwise.

The problem comes when we somehow assume that someone’s life, title, wealth, status, station makes them more worthy of our prayer, love, finance, help, encouragement…

James Chapter 2 starts by warning us against this.

 

Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in.  If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,”  have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

 

Being Comfortable vs Being Just

 

Some people are just plain old easier to like and love aren’t they?

Sometimes, it’s far more comfortable to flock around the wealthy out-of-towner who shows up one Sunday at our church than it is to welcome in the homeless man with no shoes.

Sometimes, having the returning missionary round for dinner feels far more holy than asking that crotchety aging couple who seem miserable about everything.

Sometimes, we get a nice warm fuzzy feeling for gifting the young girl on a short term mission that we just wouldn’t get if we helped the ordinary girl who only goes to work everyday.

Of course, this passage is not telling us not to welcome the wealthy out-of-towner, or not feed the returning missionary, or not support the girl on short term mission.

But it is saying we should be cautious that we don’t only ever make comfortable options that make us feel good and righteous, failing to realise that there is a whole host of people in our communities, churches, workplaces, lives who need the same love and encouragement.

We must take care not to value someone’s status above someone else’s need.

We must take care that we do not present the church of Christ as only being a place for the wealthy, and prosperous, or the prestigious.

Today, find someone to encourage. Find someone to love.

Encourage that mum who seems to be holding herself up ok but she has three children all under school age and some days you might not know but she’s barely holding it together.

Encourage that man who was widowed two years ago. People assume the grief has passed, but some Sundays he wishes he had somewhere to go for lunch.

Love that girl who works in the bank. She has an ordinary job. She works regular hours. She doesn’t find it exciting but she’s sure God put her there.

Love that new family who have just moved to your area. The dad is nervous because he’s starting a new job and the mum is sad because she has left all her friends.

Welcome the man who comes some Sundays. He doesn’t wash because he hasn’t got a bathroom. He hasn’t even got a house. Last night he slept in a shelter, but tonight….who knows?

Welcome the woman with the noisy baby.  Her husband left. She relies on the welfare system. She can’t see a way out and she’s terrified that one day she won’t be able to feed her child.

Friends, there are many many broken people among us.

Rich.

Poor.

Sad.

Angry.

Love them all. Love them big.

 

Thoughts for Today

 

  1. Why do you think James wants us to avoid showing favouritism? What damage can doing so do to the cause of Christ?
  2. What are some of the ways we can make ourselves more aware of the people in our fellowships and communities that have needs? How can we take practical steps to ensure we avoid showing the favouritism James speaks of?

Prayers for Today

 

  • Pray today that God would show to who to love and encourage and care for. Ask him to help you guard against showing favouritism and forgive you for times when you may have unwittingly done so.

 

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