Sometimes people can be a real effort to hang out with can't they? Or is it just me? In a room full of people, I find myself walking past certain characters so I can avoid another conversation with them, or looking the other way so they can't catch my eye. I find myself making excuses on the phone about how 'I must go because I've got lots to do', just so I can avoid a long conversation with that person I can't be bothered with. Is it just me? I don't think so (but if it is - I'm in big trouble now)!
The truth is, we all make choices about who to give our time to and although it's right to prioritise certain relationships above others, we often have certain people we'd rather not bother with if we're being honest. The thing is, when we do this - when we neglect people and choose others above them for superficial reasons - we're the ones who end up missing out. Not only do we show favouritism, but we inevitably show it to people that we've got little to learn from and we miss out on the hidden richness of others (v5). We even prefer to invest in people who end up doing us the most harm (v6-7).
James sees that his readers have a problem with superiority too. They think they're ok with God because they do other good things but they overlook the poor and invest in the rich instead. James wants to wake them up to the fact that they're not ok with God if they do this. So often we think we can earn God's love by getting a few things right and we kid ourselves into thinking we've got it all sorted when all the time God knows our secret sins and he sees all our intentions, motives and thoughts. No matter how good we are, we all stumble when it comes to living a life for God and we all need his grace and forgiveness on a daily basis. Only with this perspective can we truly start investing in others without any favouritism. We should show mercy to all because God shows mercy to all - even us!
God finds us irresistible. He has to love us and show mercy to us. Next time I'm hanging out in the crowd, maybe it shouldn't be so much of an effort to engage in conversation with people who are different from me. Maybe, if I'm really appreciating the grace of God, I should find others irresistible because I can see God in them.
A prayer - Father, thank you that you do not have favourites but you show mercy to all. Please forgive me for neglecting others. Please help me to see them through your eyes. Amen.