Favoritism Doesn’t Help Anyone
I was making small talk with an older man one day while standing in the church parking lot. At one point, he pointed to his van and told me how he had always been a loyal Dodge customer and how reliable the brand was. He boasted, “It’s got 100,000 miles on it, and all I’ve done is rebuild the engine and transmission and replaced the rear end.” Well, you can imagine what I was thinking but didn’t say out loud.
I don’t know what took place in this man’s life to bond him to the Dodge brand in this way. Maybe his dad was a Dodge man. Maybe a Dodge saved his life at some point. Maybe just by coincidence, it was the only brand of car he’d ever known.
That example to favoritism was merely to a car brand, and somewhat harmless save for the man’s wallet. But the Bible warns us about inappropriate favoritism to others. Proverbs 24: 23-25 states:
These also are sayings of the wise. To show partiality in judgment is not good. He who says to the wicked, “You are righteous,” Peoples will curse him, nations will abhor him; But to those who rebuke the wicked will be delight, And a good blessing will come upon them.
We often think of favoring the rich over the poor as in James 2, but also recall Luke 14:26.
“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”
Jesus said you must “hate” your own father, mother, wife, children, and brothers. Another way of saying this is, when it comes to Godliness and righteousness, we must not show favoritism to family over God. It is understandable that we would be closer to some people: our spouses, children, closest friends, someone we have gone through perils with, someone we see as having been loyal to us, or maybe just someone you’ve known for a long time. The problem arises when we begin to show these people favoritism. Again, not just in matters of no consequence…like birthday gifts or spending time together socially, but rather in matters of right and wrong. Our feelings towards someone cannot allow us to excuse their sin or attempt to justify their unrighteousness.
This kind of favoritism is not only divisive and damaging to a local body, but it is also harmful to the one you are showing favoritism. It allows those in sin to continue, often emboldened. It hurts others growth who feel they are being held to a different standard than those in your “in crowd.” First Timothy 5:21 says:
"I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality. "
If someone is “principled”, we know this means they make decisions based on principle, not the relationship to the person(s) involved, even if it means negatively impacting themselves or someone close to them. Even Christians can lose (or loose) their principles when someone close is involved. But, if we keep our perspective from the view of heaven, we would see that showing favoritism is not helping anyone get there.