James: Love, Not Favorites

James 1:18 (NLT) reads, “[God] chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.”

As flawed humans surrounded by other flawed humans, it’s tempting for us to sort of scoff at that. Really, us? Criminals, sinners, selfish and cruel beings. How and why, out of everything, did we become what God loves most?

Puppies exist. They’re cute and loving and loyal. Yes, they’re still learning, but once they learn, it tends to stick. But God doesn’t cherish them like He does us.

What about the stars? They do just as God commands, never wavering or faltering. They’re beautiful and fascinating and a true testament to God’s power and majesty. Why not the stars?

And angels! Angels that serve God and wouldn’t dream of disobeying Him or turning away from Him (the fallen third and Lucifer not withstanding). Pure and selfless, yet they aren’t what God loves most.

Let’s step back for a second and switch perspectives. Let’s not look at mankind through our eyes, the eyes of victims of prejudice or greed or apathy or anything else that corrupts. Let’s try to see humanity through God’s eyes.

Over seven billion people currently exist, and no two people are exactly the same.

Take my best friends Becca and Ayana and me for example. I’ve never met anyone who understands me better than those two. They’ve been through the worst times with me, and we celebrate each other’s victories every chance we get. When we’re together, it’s largely like being around one personality split into three bodies. Over the years, we’ve picked up quirks and habits from each other, and we’ve developed so many inside jokes that, half the time, it’s like we’re speaking in code. But we each still have traits and interests that the others don’t, and we each have experiences and backgrounds that the others will never have. These things shape us into the people we are, making it impossible for us to ever be exactly the same.

None of us are exactly the same, which means that God put time and effort into each individual one of us. There’s no factory or mold that we popped out of. You’re hand-crafted. You’re an original. And there will never be another you.

When painters do a series, no two paintings are the same. If a painter does a series of still-life paintings, which would be paintings of grouped inanimate objects, they may decide to switch around certain parts or paint from a different angle. They could paint in different lightings, styles, or mediums. The paintings would be similar, yes, but not the same.

If a musician or band decides to cover a song, they never do it exactly the same way as the original artist did it. They change the tempo or style or key. They mix it with other music. They sing it with no music or do an instrumental. The drums are louder or the guitar is softer. They do it their own way so that it’s not just a copy.

You are God’s masterpiece, and so is every other person. Humanity is God’s favorite painting, His favorite song, but we’re all done in different ways. There are similarities between us, but we’re not replicas.

But maybe I prefer the colors you’re painted in or the tempo you’re set to.

There’s nothing wrong with that by itself. There are people that I prefer not to be around, and there are people who can’t stand me. It’s nothing that will stop the world from spinning on.

There is something wrong with me letting my preferences and dislikes guide me to a place where I mistreat someone.

We’re told in James 2:1 (NLT), “My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others?” James goes on to give an example of the people giving special attention to the rich even though they oppressed them. Then James writes in 2:8-9, “Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.”

James isn’t saying you have to like and befriend everyone. He’s saying you have to love everyone.

Regardless of how much I may not get along with someone, I can’t treat them like they’re second-rate. They are one of God’s masterpieces, after all. No less of one than I am myself. How dare I think that I can mistreat someone God loves to death and back and it not hurt God Himself.

It’s not just that we break a law, although that is true. It’s not that we’ve committed yet another sin. It’s that we’ve taken a creation of God’s and said that it’s not good enough, that it’s unworthy. It’s that we’ve elevated ourselves and our opinions over God and His opinions.

Imagine what this world would be like if everyone showed love to everyone.

I know that what James has told us can be challenging. It’s not always easy to be an example of God’s love. But I hope that we all see how necessary it is to love others, to love everyone and treat them well. And maybe we can see more and more why we are God’s prized possession.

By Carrie Prevette

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