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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? – James 2:1-4

James was known for his justice. In this passage James particularly hones in on the problem of partiality shown toward an economic class—the rich over the poor. The willingness to show favor to the man in fine clothing and to dismiss the man dressed shabbily. Yet the principle that James speaks into expands far beyond class, as we must consider how we make distinctions and become judges of people every single day. Do you avoid eye contact with the beggar on the street? Do you gravitate towards people with nice clothes? With fancy degrees? With a nice car? Do you overlook the awkward person who struggles to fit in? We make distinctions, and judgments, every day. James goes on to remind us that God has chosen the poor to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, and that we are called to fulfill the law of Christ, and love our neighbors as ourselves, and not show partiality. Our savior went to the marginalized, the poor, the oppressed, the sick, the weak, the ones that everyone else overlooked. And He calls us to do the same every day. However, Christ was not only willing to see and love without distinction, He was willing to become the judged, the marginalized, the rejected, and the condemned, as He took our sin upon Himself on the cross. The Gospel must transform us to live in radically just ways, so that the law of Christ, the whole law of Christ, is the posture of our hearts. In this season of fasting, I encourage you to examine your heart for ways you choose to show partiality rather than justice. Allow yourself to be humbled and know more fully your need for grace.

Anne Kerhoulas
Ministry Fellow at Harvard