My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. —James 2:1 ESV
John Piper helps us understand why we should not show partiality…
1. Verse 1: Partiality contradicts faith in Jesus Christ as the Lord of glory.
2. Verses 2-4: Partiality reveals a judging heart and behind it evil thinking.
3. Verse 5: Partiality to the rich contradicts God’s heart, because he has chosen many of the poor for himself.
4. Verse 6a: Partiality dishonors people created in the image of God.
5. Verses 6b-7: Partiality to the rich backfires and becomes your downfall.
6. Verse 9-11: Partiality makes you a transgressor of the law of liberty.
7. Verse 13: Partiality is not mercy. But if you don’t show mercy, you will perish.
God is so good to us not merely to tell us what to do, as if he were only an authority, but to tell us why. He has reasons. He wants us not only to submit, but to submit with some understanding. He wants us to see the beauty and the wisdom and the goodness of his commands. So he gives us reasons to do what he says.
Mercy, Not Racial Prejudice
So I close by looking more closely at the last and the first reason. In verse 13 he says, “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” The meaning here is plain. It’s based on the words of Jesus: “ Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matthew 5:7). If we don’t show mercy, we have not known Christ. A Christian is a person who has seen and tasted, and lives on, the mercy of Christ. If there is no mercy in our lives—if we show partiality because of riches or race and come to no remorse and no repentance—we don’t know him and we will perish. But if we have tasted his mercy and treasure it, and live in the liberty of his love, then we will show mercy and that mercy will be the evidence of our faith which carries us through the judgment.