It’s easy to judge someone’s worth based on appearance. We do it all the time. When we need someone’s help in a group of unfamiliar people, we look around and make a judgment based on appearance as to who might be most capable. Often we can be surprised by words of wisdom coming from an unsuspected source. Affluence does not always equal intelligence and certainly is not a measure of moral integrity.
“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.” James 2:1 (NIV)
If you were lost on a busy city street, would you seek directions from a well-dressed businessman or a homeless man begging for money? Not everyone will answer this question the same, but it’s likely the majority will approach the businessman. It’s also more likely the homeless man knows the local streets far better than the businessman; nevertheless, most will see the businessman as more valuable. If we turn this scenario around, and the businessman and the homeless man individually show up at your home asking for directions, which one will receive the most respect from you? Will you be more suspicious and cautious of the homeless man? Will you open your door wider for the businessman? The world we live in makes it hard to know who to trust and who to look out for. It well could be the case that the businessman is running some kind of scam to trick you out of your money, while the homeless man is totally honest and sincerely concerned for your well-being. Are you judging people based on their appearance?
“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?” James 2:2-4 (NIV)
Every man is the same in the eyes of God. Every man is deserving of the same respect until proven otherwise. A careful reading of the Bible might suggest the wealthy man is more suspect of wrong-doing than the poor man. Of course we have no way to look into the heart of everyone we meet as God does; however, we can take note of a respectful demeanor and treat all, rich or poor, with equal respect. How the homeless man got where he is may be a tragic story that absolutely anyone could have fallen victim to. How the rich man became wealthy may be a story we would never want to become a part of. Both men have the opportunity to know Christ. In that respect, neither person is any different than you or I.
“Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” James 2:5 (NIV)
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