These are my notes from a sermon series I did through the book of James. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.

I wish I could tell you that we live in world where there is no discrimination, but we don’t. I wish I could tell you that no one would judge you because of your skin color, but to often they do. I wish I could tell you that Christians would treat everyone with equal value as a person, but I cannot.

We live in a world where favoritism and discrimination in all their various forms are real and present. At some level, we all have been discriminated against whether that was because of how we looked, how we sounded when we talked, whether we were to skinny or to fat, whether we were athletic or not athletic, smart or not to smart. How you react when you are discriminated says a lot about you, but in James 2 God is not concerned so much about how you react when discriminated as He is in whether or not you are treating everyone as equally valuable.

Do you love people equally? Do you care for people equally? Do you value the poor man as much as you do the rich man? Do you accept the pretty person as much as you do the ugly person? The reality is, in your world you are going to be faced with rich and poor, smart and dumb, godly and ungodly, good looking and ugly, skinny and fat, white and black, hairy and bald, good smellin’ and bad smellin’ people. My question for you today is, does your faith in Jesus cause you to love, care, and treat everyone equally? Godly wisdom causes you to love everyone equally.

We are in a series of lessons on wisdom. We have been dissecting James 3 and what God’s Word tells us about natural wisdom (the kind without God) and heavenly wisdom (God’s Wisdom). No matter who you are, you are navigating your life using one of those wisdoms. James is trying to help us understand and apply God’s wisdom to our life.  With that said let’s take a look at James 3:13 where we are told, “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. 15 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind. 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.18 And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness” (NLT). James gives us 8 marks that identify God’s wisdom in action. We have already looked at the first six. Today, we are going to see that God’s wisdom is demonstrated when we value everyone and show no favoritism. .

The main truth is God’s wisdom produces impartiality. In verse 17 James tells us that God’s wisdom “shows no favoritism” (NLT). This says, “If I’m wise, I will not treat you unequally.” James uses a unique word for “favoritism” (adiakritos) and it literally means not to be parted or divided. It means to be without uncertainty, indecision, inconsistency, or doubtfulness toward people who are different than you or that you don’t like or understand. This word came to be used to indicate impartiality and treating everyone equally without favoritism. You treat others in your life consistently the same. You place the same amount of worth on them, the same amount of love on them, and the same amount of value on them. You demonstrate no favoritism. James has already addressed this important quality in chapter 2, but we are going to look at it again.

Favoritism can go by many other names. On your outline I have given you some examples.

Words normally used in discussing favoritism


Favoritism is to give preference to one person or group over others with equal claims.


The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.


Preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. Dislike, hostility, or unjust behavior deriving from unfounded opinions.


The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.


Excessive or prejudiced loyalty or support for one’s on gender.


Intolerant toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.

For believers, like you and me, whatever form favoritism takes and wherever it shows up, we are to be above it.

Before we move on, let me be clear about something. Favoritism is to give preference to one person or group over others with equal claims. Don’t misunderstand this. There are times where you need to treat people differently because of who they are or the position they hold. That’s not favoritism. When I treat my wife better than other women, I am not showing favoritism… because the other women don’t have equal claim to me or my attention. She has a right or a claim on me to be treated differently. Because I give more attention to my children or grandchildren than yours is not showing favoritism… because your family doesn’t have equal claim to me or my attention. The sin of favoritism is based on evil motives that come from unfounded opinions or beliefs that are contrary to God’s Word.

The Bible has a lot to say about favoritism and when the subject comes up in the Bible its always in a negative context. God takes this serious. He does not want it to be a part of His people’s lives. We are going to quickly look at several statements about favoritism in the Bible. We don’t have a lot of time to spend on each one, but I did want you to be aware of some of these Biblical principles about favoritism.

Favoritism is inconsistent with God’s character

First, favoritism is inconsistent with God’s character. There are many attributes of God. The Bible talks about the love of God, the holiness of God, the wisdom of God, the power of God, the omniscience of God (God knowing everything), the power of God, the omnipresence of God (God being everywhere), and many more. But one attribute of God is the impartiality of God. Whether it comes to judgement or offering salvation God shows no partiality. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you are from, or what you have God does not show favoritism for one person over another based on superficial reasons like looks, money, or abilities.

The Bible repeats this over and over. This is a something significant that God wants us to get about Him.

  • Deuteronomy 10:17 says, “For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed” (NLT).
  • Romans 2:11 says, “For God does not show favoritism” (NLT).
  • Acts 10:34 says, “Then Peter replied, ‘I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism’” (NLT).

Now listen carefully to Ephesians 5:1, “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children” (NLT). If we are going to glorify God and represent Him well as one of His children then we need to be more like Him in not showing favoritism. We need to treat everyone equally. We need to love them all. Forgive them all. Be kind to all of them.

Favoritism is missing the mark for your life

Number two, favoritism is missing the mark for your life. God wants you to experience the abundant life. A life that is full of joy, contentment, and meaning. One of the things that keeps people from experiencing the abundant life God desires for them is favoritism.

James can be very blunt and to the point. Look at what he says in James 2:9, “But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin” (NLT). The word “sin” means to miss the mark. To fall short of the target. It was used to describe an archer who would aim at a target with his bow and arrow but miss it by falling short. He sinned. Whenever we show favoritism, we are missing the mark for our life. When you miss the mark, you are missing out on the abundant life God wants you to have.

Favoritism operates out of fear, rather than faith

Number three, favoritism operates out of fear, rather than faith. As a judge, Moses was needing help in listening to various cases between people. So he appointed judges to help with the matter and then he gave them some instructions and look closely at one of the instructions in Deuteronomy 1:16 which says, “At that time I instructed the judges, ‘You must hear the cases of your fellow Israelites and the foreigners living among you. Be perfectly fair in your decisions 17 and impartial in your judgments. Hear the cases of those who are poor as well as those who are rich. Don’t be afraid of anyone’s anger, for the decision you make is God’s decision. Bring me any cases that are too difficult for you, and I will handle them” (NLT). One of the reasons we show favoritism is because we are afraid of making our favorites upset at us. This is where you will need to trust God and make the right, fair, and impartial judgement.

Favoritism ignores sin

Number four, favoritism ignores sin. It allows for an unhealthy double standard. In Malachi 2 God is talking to some priests and He is giving them a warning and within that warning God says, “Therefore, I have made you contemptible in the eyes of all the people; for you have not obeyed me, but you let your favorites break the law without rebuke” (TLB). It’s amazing how we will let some people get away with so much, simply because we like them more than someone else. Favoritism will let one child get away with something, but not another. Favoritism will let a fellow employee get away with one thing, while punishing another employee for the same thing. Favoritism ignores sin.

Favoritism can harm relationships

Number five, favoritism can harm relationships. Genesis 37:3 we get a glimpse of what favoritism can do to others, “Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe. But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him” (NLT). This is amazing. When you show favoritism toward someone, people don’t get mad at you, they get made at the one you are showing favoritism toward. This is why students don’t get annoyed at the teacher, they get annoyed at the teacher’s pet. But in families, like Jacob’s family, they started hating Joseph and couldn’t even speak a kind word to him. Favoritism can harm relationships.

Favoritism is a battle we all face

Number six, favoritism is a battle we all face. Peter was one of Jesus’ closest friends. He ministered and served alongside Jesus. Peter was one of the early leaders of the church after Jesus resurrected from the grave. He helped spread the gospel to many people. But even Peter struggled with favoritism. God sent someone to Peter to help Peter through his own struggle of favoritism dealing with Jews and Gentiles. After Peter heard what God had done, Peter responded by saying, “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism” (NLT). It’s okay to admit that you struggle with favoritism. It’s okay to admit that you favor this person over that person or this group of people over that group of people. It’s okay to admit that.

Begin asking God for help to value everyone equally. To love them, encourage them, and support them equally. You want to be a person who “shows no favoritism.”


Let’s wrap this up by looking at Proverbs 28:21 which says, “Playing favorites is always a bad thing; you can do great harm in seemingly harmless ways” (MSG). Godly wisdom causes you to love everyone equally. Overtime your faith in Christ, your relationship with Jesus will change your heart about the people you are prejudice against. Your faith changes your mindset toward those you favor and those you dishonor. As your faith grows, you will begin to love and cherish the rich and poor, the educated and the uneducated, the cool and the non-cool, the good looking and the ugly, the man and the woman, the godly and the ungodly, the white and the black, and everyone else around you. As your heart is transformed by your faith in Jesus you will begin to have the heart of God for the world and you will begin to love the world like God does.

Marks of Heavenly Wisdom


If I’m wise I will not compromise my integrity

“first of all pure”

Peace loving

If I’m wise I will not

antagonize your anger

“it is also peace loving”


If I’m wise I will not

minimize your feelings

“gentle at all times”


If I’m wise I will not

criticize your suggestions

“willing to yield to others”


If I’m wise I will not

emphasize your mistakes

“full of mercy”


If I’m wise I will not

waste my life

“full of… the fruit of good deeds”


If I’m wise I will not

treat you unequally

“It shows no favoritism”


If I’m wise I will not

pretend to be someone I’m not

“and is always sincere”

Based on James 3:17