What does it mean to be partial, to show partiality to someone or something? Partiality is defined as an unfair bias, favoring one person or one thing over another. When it comes to having a favorite food, such as being partial to apples over oranges, or having a favorite color, like preferring blue over green, partiality is not a bad thing. It’s actually pretty benign. But when it comes to preferring one person over another, such as showing favoritism or special privilege to a rich person while ignoring a poor person, partiality is something to be avoided. It is this type of partiality that the apostle James addresses in his letter. James 2:1-4 (NLT) says:
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?
James is addressing the early church here, advising them that they must not show partiality in their interactions with people. But the message is as pertinent to each of us now as it was to the early church. As James points out, if we show favoritism to one type of person over another, not only is our faith in question but our motives, as well. In fact, when we show partiality, we are actually committing sin and are breaking the law (James 2:9). What law is that? The law found in Leviticus 19:18, the law that Jesus Himself reiterated in Matthew 22:39: we must love our neighbor as ourselves!
Confucius once said, “The sun and the moon shine on all without partiality.” Each and every one of us receives the benefits of both of these two great lights that God created (Genesis 1:15-16). They are not partial to any of us. And neither is the God who created them. Romans 2:11 tells us that, when it comes to God, there is no partiality. In the NLT, this verse says, “For God does not show favoritism.” This is true when it comes to sin. Whether Jew or Gentile, God looks at those who do evil the same way, and they will be judged in the same way (Romans 2:9; 12). This same lack of partiality on God’s part also applies to God’s gracious gift of salvation.
Romans 3:23 points out that all of us have sinned. All of us fall way short of God’s glory. Not some of us, not a few of us. ALL of us. But God, through His infinite mercy and grace, has made a way for all of us to be right in His sight. He did this by the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, in order to pay the penalty for our sins (Romans 3:24). And all that we must do is place our faith in Jesus Christ. When we believe in Jesus, turn from our sins, and accept Him as Savior, we are made right with God. That applies not just to some of us, not just to a few of us, but to all of us. This promise of God is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are (Romans 3:22).
God has no favorites. And neither should we.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.