There’s a verse in James 2 often quoted where we’re chastened not to be a respecter of persons. The example that corresponds describes two men – one who appears rich and the other poor. I’ve often heard this verse cited as support that what God does for one person, He’ll do for another. I think this appeals to our western ideas of fairness so we embrace this concept. And yet, I’ve wondered…
Jesus clearly singled out 3 of His 12 disciples to get more one-on-one time with Him. And weren’t even the 12 singled out from the throngs that at least on occasion followed Him? Where I note conflict in the word I can always rest assured the issue resides in my understanding, not in the word! So I did a little digging 🙂
Here’s what the Greek word prosopolempsia (respect of persons) means:
- respect of persons
- the fault of one who when called on to give judgment has respect of the outward circumstances of man and not to their intrinsic merits, and so prefers, as the more worthy, one who is rich, high born, or powerful, to another who does not have these qualities
Note the words I’ve bolded, outward circumstances. The implication here is that doing things that may appear biased when done based on inward circumstances is appropriate. It in fact is wisdom.
Here’s an example, let’s say we have two children the same age: one prone to carelessness and folly, and the other responsible and mature. Which do you suppose I’d allow to carry grape juice across a white carpet? For me to “not be a respecter of persons” as the west has often interpreted this verse would mean I’d have to let both. But if I did am I not lacking wisdom and discernment?
I say all this to say that often we struggle with jealousy at what God is doing in someone else’s life that we may not see happening in our own. Instead of accusing God of bias, question what internal circumstance in your life may not make you someone God would want to trust with certain giftings or circumstances. Too often we are unwilling to pay the price, but still want to feel justified in complaining.
Do you want to move in the power of God? Prepare yourself as a holy vessel. Ask Him to show you things in your life that need to change. Hold nothing back from Him. Be willing to lay it all down… create internal circumstances that are ripe for blessing.
But if you find yourself deciding that this TV show, or that musician, or _______ (fill in the blank) isn’t really a big deal because it’s not “that” bad so you don’t really “have” to get rid of it… just know there may be things God will have to hold back from you as well. It’s not out of His anger, it’s out of mercy – He can’t give us more than we can handle and if we refuse to relentlessly pursue holiness, we’re not ready for the “true riches”.
Lord, open our eyes and our hearts that we might see our true inner circumstances as You see them. Please show us how to align our hearts and lives with You. Help is to position ourselves for the fullness of Your blessings!