My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. (James 2:1 NAS)
A story was told of a populist philosopher and wise man by the name Nasreddin who lived in Turkey during the 13th century. One day, Nasreddin was invited to a banquet. Not wanting to be pretentious, he wore his usual daily clothes to the place, but discovered everyone ignored him, including the host. Nasreddin then went home and put on his finest coat and returned to the banquet. This time, the host immediately came over, and Nasreddin was cordially greeted by everyone and ushered to a table with lavish food and drinks.
When the soup was served, Nasreddin dunked the sleeve of his coat into the bowl and said, "Eat, my coat, eat!" The startled host then asked Nasreddin to explain his strange behavior.
"When I arrived here wearing my other clothes," explained Nasreddin, "no one offered me anything to eat or drink. But when I returned wearing this fine coat, I was immediately offered the best of everything, so I can only assume that it was the coat and not me who was invited to your banquet."
Like the story of Nasreddin, the Bible also spoke about not judging a person by how he or she is dressed (James 2:1-9). If a man comes into our assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, do we pay special attention to him and say, "You sit here in a good place"? If there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, do we say to the poor man, "You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool" (James 2:2-3)? If we do, then we have made distinctions among ourselves and become judges with evil motives (James 2:4).
For regardless rich or poor, all of us who have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are heirs of the kingdom. This is a promise from the Lord to all who love Him (James 2:5). We should therefore not dishonor the poor, nor give honor to the rich (James 2:6-7). We should also not judge a person by how he or she is dressed or hold our faith with an attitude of personal favoritism (James 2:1-4). Instead, we should love our neighbor—the ones who come to us or to our assembly—as ourselves (James 2:8). If we show partiality, we are in effect guilty of committing sin (James 2:9)!
Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong with dressing up for special occasions. In fact, the Bible spoke of a special occasion by which inappropriate dressing can lead to getting oneself thrown out. This is the occasion when our Lord as the Lamb returns to claim His chosen people as His bride (Ephesians 5:27; Revelation 21:9). In that day, Christ will come as King, and if He sees anyone not in proper ‘wedding clothes,’ He will have that person thrown outside into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 22:11-13). For the ‘wedding clothes’ required of the bride of Christ is the garment of salvation, given only to those who believe in Him. This is the robe of Christ’s righteousness—bright and clean—wrapped around us covering our guilt and sin, washed clean by His blood on the Cross (Isaiah 61:10; Romans 3:24-25; Revelation 19:7-8).
The day of our Lord's return shall come like a thief. Let us therefore be always prepared, as only those who keep awake and remain clothed shall be blessed and not be shamefully exposed (Revelation 16:15).
Dear Lord, forgive us for sometimes giving preferential treatment to certain people, while showing partiality to others. Cause us to remember Lord that regardless rich or poor, all of us who received You as Lord and Savior stand equal in Your sight. Help us therefore not to dishonor the faith to show personal favoritism or judge anyone by the way one is dressed. Prepare us Lord for your return and wrap us in Your robes of righteousness to stay white and clean in the garments of Your salvation. Cleanse us Lord from all unrighteousness that we may present ourselves to You blameless and without spot.
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