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This Kind of Special Treatment is Sin

You have poor and rich relatives, how do you treat them? When a poor person denies himself some privilege and gives it...

Written by Dr. Rei Kesis
· 4 min read >

James 2:3-4
(3) 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,” (4) have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

This is very serious. Apostle James does not sugarcoat the problem. Treating rich or rich -looking people better than poor or poor-looking people is a sin. How clear can the Apostle get? To treat one better than the other is sin.

The Bible tells us that believers in Jesus should not show favoritism, James 2:1. Then he gives a common example of a church or home or whatever place receiving two visitors, James 2:2. A rich or rich-looking visitor comes adorned in gold. A visibly poor visitor also arrives. How do you treat the two? The special treatment to the rich and not the poor person is a sin.

The special treatment we show the rich or rich-looking person shows our greed. We are reacting to the gold he is wearing and not the person. The two people are both male human beings. Special treatment is given to gold and not the person. That makes us materialistic. It means we honor wealth over human beings and even God. It means we are worshiping the gold he has. If he didn’t have the gold we would not treat him specially. It is idolatry. This kind of special treatment is a sin!

We are also attracted to things other than gold. We are attracted to those with power. We are attracted to those with higher education qualifications. We are attracted to those who are celebrated. If we treat them better than others, it is wrong. This kind of special treatment is wrong!

Obeying parents is not showing favoritism. Obeying leaders and showing them due respect is not favoristism. However, discriminating against parents depending on how you benefit from them is wrong. Loving a father more than a mother or vice versa is no longer obedience but discrimination. Going an extra mile for a leader who can grant you favors and doing the bare minimum for other leaders is discrimination. To obey is okay, but to show special treatment to some in the same category and ignore others, and particularly with an obvious or hidden motive to win favors, is discrimination. God hates discrimination. Discrimination is a sin. This kind of special treatment is a sin!

When a poor person denies himself some privilege and gives it to the rich or rich-looking person, it is wrong. It is wrong because he wouldn’t do that for a fellow poor person or poor-looking person. He is doing this because he is attracted to the wealth. It is low self-esteem. This kind of special treatment is a sin!

Special treatment of some over others devalues humanity and places value on wealth or whatever else we consider important enough if a person had it. The Apostle tells us today that if you are a convert of Jesus Christ, you should never ever show favoritism. A true believer does not discriminate against people. A person’s worth is in the fact that they are human, God created them and even died to redeem them.

You have poor and rich relatives, how do you treat them? How do you treat calls from your well to do relatives and calls from the needy relatives? You have a good policy not to pick work related calls on weekend. You do very well when it is your colleagues and juniors. What about a call on weekend from that Boss who can influence your professional growth? You dont like when people intrude your personal space. When that ordinary person tried reaching out to you, you gave them a dress down and lectured them on boundaries. What about when that handsome well to do bloke crushed into your privacy and you blushed all the way? This kind of special treatment is a sin!

When you have programs on ordinary worship days who do you include? When you have programs on important occassions who do you leave out deliberately and who do you include? When you are chatting in a cricle of middle age men and some are rich and some are poor, who do you send to carry seats into the building before it rains? Who do you ask to open the gate for a hooting car?

We have sometimes taken our discrimination to worse levels. We use titles of respect (Mr. Mrs. Miss. Elder. Sir. Madam, etc) for those we respect and for the poor and ordinary even though they are older than us, we refer to them by their names without the requisite titles of respect which is disrecpectful in many communities. How do you correct publicly a well to do person and a poor person? If you find it easy to publicly embarrass a poor person and then politely handle a well to do person, you are discriminating. This kind of special treatment is a sin!

You sit quietly in a meeting when a person from an inferior race or tribe is being discussed. You suddenly become alive and active when a person from your race or tribe is on the agenda. That is discrimination. When one of your own is the agenda, you insist on due process, fairness and justice. When the other miscellaneous persons who matter least are on the agenda, any flimsy grounds are okay and life goes on. How do you relate with a rich spouse whose wealth has clearly made a difference in your life? How do you relate with an average or poor spouse who doesn’t have much? Would you treat them differently? This kind of special treatment is a sin!

Our greatest concern should be that God is watching. God who knows the motives of human hearts. God who knows how you would handle a similar matter from a well to do person and how you handle it with an inferior person. God who knows the preference you give to your race and tribe. God who knows all these has this message for us – this kind of special treatment is a sin!

May God help us to overcome the tendency to intentionally or unintentionally discriminate against people, in Jesus’ name, Amen!

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Written by Dr. Rei Kesis
Rei Kesis is an ordained Pastor of the SDA Church and A Senior Lecturer of Applied Theology and Religious Studies. Profile

16 Replies to “This Kind of Special Treatment is Sin”

  1. Sure Pastor! We are all culprits! God of mercy forgive us and let us live a life worth our calling. Thank you Pastor…

  2. Amen.
    My takehome- there are no ‘miscellaneous persons’.
    Thank you pastor and God bless you.

  3. Amen. We are all equal before God.
    Been following closely, the study of chapter 2 in all books. It’s been wonderfully blessing.

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