James 2:1 states, “My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality” (NKJV). James knew the tendency there is for us to favor one person over another and thus he exhorts his brethren in the faith NOT to show favoritism. In writing this he was well aware of the fact that God shows no favoritism. We read in Romans 2:11, “For there is no partiality with God.” Paul echoed this truth in Ephesians 6:9, “There is no partiality with Him.” This does NOT mean we don’t give honor to certain persons if they are in a position of authority over us, such as parents (see Ephesians 6:1-3) or rulers in government (see Romans 13:1-7). It means we are not to favor a person because of something we like or admire about him, such as their wealth or physical appearance.

James goes on to illustrate this very thing in verses 2-4: “For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy cloths, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and say to the poor man, ‘You stand there,’ or, ‘Sit here at my footstool,’ have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts.” If we are guilty of this we ought to judge it immediately, for showing favoritism betrays a carnal state where we are acting just like the unsaved all around us. Let’s remember that each person is precious to God and especially those who have been redeemed by His precious grace. He has made us all to be ONE IN CHRIST, and all personal distinctions have been erased as far as He is concerned. Galatians 3:28 declares, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Now let’s read Matthew 21:28-32: “A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in m vineyard,’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir, but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said to Him, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him’.”

The Lord Jesus told this parable to the chief priests and the elders of the people who confronted Jesus and challenged His authority and that of John the Baptist (see verses 23-27). The parable is self-explanatory, for it reveals the true state of these proud and self-righteous religious leaders. Some of them pretended to accept John’s message but their actions proved that they actually were hypocrites who had no desire to do the will of God. They are pictured by the “second son” in the parable. The “first son” illustrates the tax collectors and prostitutes who eventually believed John’s words when he told them to “repent,” for they did indeed change their mind about their sins and did the will of God. The Lord Jesus let the religious rulers know that those despised sinners would enter the kingdom of God because of their repentance and faith, and that they would be shut out because of their unwillingness to believe. (259.1) (DO)