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Partiality and Judging

(James 2:1-13; 4:11,12)

Lesson 2 -- third quarter 1996
June 9, 1996

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1996, Christian Light Publications

So I unwound 13 hours off my life clock in the Tijuana airport. Unexpectedly! I had no choice in that matter. Unhappily? I did have a choice. Unproductively? I did have a choice. Unjudgmentally? I did have a choice. Let's look at that last one, now that I am sufficiently detached from the circumstances!

Had the erring travel agent been one of my especially-close friends (or myself!), I might have reacted with: "He was just obeying orders to keep costs low.... He had no other flight arrangements with which to work.... Someone gave him inaccurate information on how long it takes to go from the San Diego airport to the Tijuana airport.... He was trying to save me a long wait at the Mexico City airport.... The poor guy is human -- he goofed; I probably would have also."

But the travel agent is not a close friend! So how easy to think things like: "He should have verified with me the times involved.... He should get a computer so he can look more effectively.... He surely knows these airports aren't across town from each other.... He isn't the one traveling, so.... This was a preventable goof...."

The contrast between the two previous paragraphs constitutes a gross violation of the royal law! The glaring differences in reactions reveal a spirit which does not come from God -- the spirit of partiality. How easily we tend to succumb to this spirit.

Partiality denies the faith (verse 1). Partiality mocks God's choices (verses 5 and 6). Partiality mocks the royal law (verse 3). Partiality is sin (verse 9). What other things about partiality can you glean from this lesson text?

God hates partiality! It contradicts His nature, and therefore, opposes what He wants to work in us. In the final analysis, partiality and sowing discord don't have much to distinguish them. So, where God wants to produce loving, considerate unity, we introduce impartiality. What do you think we should do about it?!

"Love thy neighbour as thyself." Oh how generous I am with myself! And how evenhanded and objective I try to be with myself! This royal law says I must respond to the travel agent with the same measure of love I have for myself. Good bye partiality!

Speak and do as one that shall be judged. The same words and standards I employ in my harsh judgment of others will be brought to bear in the judgment of Mark Roth. I must always remember that I, too, am subject to judgment. I should prepare for that instead of raining judgment on the heads of others.

Let mercy reign. Mercy is most significant where condemnation is most natural. In fact, mercy cannot bloom except in those circumstances where people "deserve" condemnation. May God teach me to rejoice in showing mercy instead of judgment.

"Speak not evil one of another." Not to the ticket agent (about the travel agent). Nor to my travelling companion. Nor to Mark in the echoing confines of his own head. This means disciplining my mind. This does not mean simply not thinking. It does mean thinking properly.

Throw out unrighteous judging. Fling it far away, then ask God to finish the expulsion process. Righteous judging studies factual fruit; partiality savors imaginary fruit. Pitch it.

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