Don’t Play Favorites

This year in our Sunday School lessons we are going through the books of James and Proverbs to look at the Practical Living from God’s Word.  What is located below are the high level points we discussed this week.  Please use this tool to follow up with your teens and see how they plan to apply this to their life.

James 2:1-13

You walk into a room for the first time and you look at all the people that are there, what are you thinking about in your mind?

Are you ranking them in order of how you think they are?

Are you judging them based on the way they look, the clothes they wear, their size, or their cleanliness?

You get to know a group of people from your churches youth group and you have strong opinions about who you should hang out with.  Is it based on their school, on whether or not they are attractive or if they are athletic?

The sin of Favoritism is one of the easiest sins for us to fall into as a bunch of teenagers.  I hear multiple times about the cliques that have formed in our youth group and about the way that it is hard for the new kid to come to our youth group.  And while I recognize that there are 2 sides to every story and that a person who has friends must be friendly.  I wonder at what level does the sin of favoritism show up in our lives?

What is favoritism?

How does favoritism show up in our lives?

I.          An Example of What Favoritism Is. (2:1-4)

A.        So the story is given of a person who enters the room and is dressed like a dignitary.  The people immediately bring that person to the VIP section and give them the perfect place to sit.

B.        Then in enters a person who is wearing shabby clothes and the people do not even care that he is there.  In fact they give him the standing room only section.

C.        This is obvious favoritism.

D.        How could this same scenario play out in a youth group meeting here at Faith?

1.         Like this.  A kid that you know well or that you know about is coming to our youth group for the first time.  As soon as they come you jump up and run over to them and encourage them to come and to sit next to you, and to talk to you.  While another teen kind of sneaks in the door and you never even notice that they are there so you do not say a word to them.  In fact you kind of ignore them, in fact you really don’t care where they sit or if they even stand for that matter.

II.        The Social Argument (2:5-7)

A.        Verse 5 – Because of God’s love for us in salvation we are all the same because we are rich in Christ.  God has chosen even the poor in the world to be rich in the faith.

B.        Verse 6 – However when you discriminated against the poor man you put him down and completely treated him the way your do not want to be treated.

1.         In the case of the church that James is writing to the people were probably mostly poor.

2.         They would understand well the idea of the rich people taking them to court to get payment out of them even when they could not afford it.

3.         In other words they were treating the poor person who came to their meeting in the same way that the rich would treat them.

C.        Verse 7 – They were actually showing favoritism to one of the people who was treating them poorly.

1.         More specifically in this case one of the rich people who would drag them to court.

2.         One of the people who ignore that they were one of God’s Children.

D.        What is the potential trap that we could be falling into by showing favoritism to others who appear to be someone we like and ignore the person who does not look like someone we might like?

1.         Like this.  What if the person you are reaching out to actually appears to be someone you would like, but in actuality is totally against everything you stand for? What if they look nice but in actuality they are more concerned about doing wrong or they begin to question your beliefs and you begin to think about what they are saying?

2.         And what if the person you ignored is actually someone that you should befriend because they will help you in your walk with the Lord or you could help them in their walk?  And what if by ignoring them you allowed them to disappear and missed out on the good that they could have brought into your life?

III.       The Moral Argument (2:8-11)

A.        Verse 8 – You are doing good if you are able to keep the command to love your neighbor as yourself.  Congratulations you are not showing favoritism but you are actually fulfilling God’s commands.

B.        Verse 9 – If you however are failing in the area of showing favoritism then you have broken one of the Lord’s commands and therefore you are not keeping the law of the Lord.

C.        Verse 10 – If you keep the law in all of its forms yet you fail in just one then you are guilty of the whole law.

D.        Verse 11 – Because the same God who gave one of the commands gave all of the commands so to break one of the commands is to break His command.

E.         So is it a sin on the same level as lying, stealing, murdering, etc. to show favoritism? Why or why not?

IV.       Act Right (2:12-13)

A.        Verse 12 – The commands “Speak and act” are stronger in the Greek text than in the English. James says, “So speak and so act.” His repetition of “so” (houtōs) is emphatic and also serves to distribute the emphasis equally between the two verbs. The present tense in both verbs calls for continuing action. James would have his readers continue to speak and act in light of the fact that they “are going to be judged.” Since he is speaking to believers, the judgment to which he refers must be the judgment of believers at the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor 5:10). The standard of judgment will be “the law that gives freedom,” rather than the enslaving legalistic system developed by the scribes and Pharisees. It is the royal law of love (v. 8), which the believer is enabled to keep by the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22–23).[1]

B.        Verse 13 – Why should mercy be shown to you when you cannot show mercy to others.  This has nothing to do with salvation but rather is talking about the way your deserve to be treated.


1.         Favoritism is a sin because we place our self in the position of being the judge over other people.

2.         We need to live by the principle of in honor preferring one another.

3.         It is downright silly to think that we can be judgmental on others and still be okay in our relationship with God.

4.         A whole lot of us myself included need to think hard about the sin of favoritism.

[1] Donald W. Burdick, “James” In , in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 12: Hebrews Through Revelation, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 180.

Johnny Kjaer
Johnny is married to Tori. They have 4 children Leif, Tryggve, Kjirsti and Hroarr. He has been a part of the youth ministry at Faith since his internship began in 2010. He served as the Pastor of Student Ministries from 2013-2023 and now serves as the Pastor of Faith East Community Ministries. Johnny is an ACBC certified counselor. He also serves the church by directing the Lafayette Living Nativity.