His face was grimy, his hair long and dirty. Beer stained his clothing and perfumed the air around him. When he stepped into the church building, the Sunday worshipers ignored him. They were stunned when the man approached the pulpit, took off his wig, and began preaching. That’s when they realized he was their pastor.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to be friendly and shake hands with the people I know and those who pre-sent themselves well.

James issued a serious warning for people like me. He said, “If you show partiality, you commit sin” (2:9). Favoritism based on appearance or economic status has no place in God’s family. In fact, it means we have “become judges with evil thoughts” (v.4).

Fortunately, we can guard against preferential treatment by loving our neighbor as ourselves—no matter who our neighbor may be. Reaching out to the homeless man, the hungry woman, or the heartbroken teen means we “fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture” (v.8).

In a world that keeps the outcast at arm’s length, let’s show the love of Christ and embrace the one who needs our care the most.

Forgive me, Lord, for prejudice—
Remove its subtle lie;
Oh, fill my heart with Your great love
That sent Your Son to die. —D. De Haan

True Christian love helps those who can’t return the favor.