For Kings and Paupers

“But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:9).   
Have you ever had someone look down on you? Has anyone ever looked you over, sized you up, and stuck their nose in the air as if you didn’t measure up to their level? If it hasn’t ever happened to you, it probably will at some point, but now think about this: have you ever done this to someone else?

You probably didn’t literally stick your nose up at another person, but we’ve all looked at someone and been judgmental, critical, and condescending. Even if we don’t utter a word, God knows our thoughts and intentions.  

Paul reminds us not to be wise in our own sight (Romans 12:16), and in the book of James, we are told not to be partial towards one person over another. Having more respect or more honor towards another person just because of their status, the way they look, or where they’re from is a sin. God is no respecter of persons—He is the same towards all. If we were to really live this out, we would treat the garbage man the same way we’d treat a king. There is no such thing as status at the foot of the cross—only grace.  

If we fall subject to the disease of haughtiness, we are being wise in our own sight. We end up with an exaggerated sense of our own abilities and forget that we can’t take the credit for any of it. We’ve been given our gifts, our talents, and our abilities by God. They were never ours to begin with. We might have honed our skills, but we didn’t buy those skills. They were entrusted to us for stewardship so that we might use them for service.  

When we become cynical of other people and judge them, we miss the point of showing honor towards one another. In the great American novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, the character Atticus says to his daughter, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”  

We can’t ever really know what it’s like to be someone else. That’s why having compassion is so crucial. We can’t look down on someone while claiming to be humble children of God. It’s a contradiction. We must not be wise in our own estimation or think of ourselves more highly than we ought because when we do, we fail to bear the name of Jesus as we ought. The only time we should look down at someone is when we’re helping them up. This is true service and honor—being willing to help people no matter if they are a king or a pauper.  
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