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Respecter of Persons

Respecter of Persons

Words of Faith 4-27-2020

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2020

Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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James 2:1-4

        My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism.  Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in.  If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?


         I was reading the devotion on "Favoritism" published yesterday. I came across the words that "Jesus is not a respecter of persons.”  It is a phrase that sounds rather odd even though the words are familiar. 

         Wasn't Jesus respectful of the people He encountered?  Didn't He approach people in a way that respected their hearts and lives?  Wasn't Jesus polite when He asked the woman at the well if she might draw for Him some water?  Wasn't Jesus respectful when He answered the questions asked by Nicodemus in the night?  Certainly, Jesus was rough when He turned over the tables in the Temple, and when He confronted corruption among the religious leaders.  But wasn't Jesus a respectful sort of fellow?

         I had to remember where that familiar phrase came from.  It was in a conversation between Peter and Cornelius in a place called Joppa.  It was a long time after the death and resurrection of Jesus.  It was at a time when the biggest issue in the early church had to do with whether Gentiles could receive the Gospel without becoming Jewish first.  That was when "Peter opened his mouth and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons... (Acts 10:34 KJV). 

         The NIV translates this a little differently... "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism.”  That makes sense.  God doesn't play favorites.  But the rest of that verse makes even more sense: "God does not show favoritism [35] but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right."

          The ESV translates: "Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation, anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him."  The Message Bible puts this in a great way:  "Peter fairly exploded with his good news: "It's God's own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites!  It makes no difference who you are or where you're from-- if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open." 

         The point then was that God does not exclude some people because of their nationality or the fact that they are not Jewish by origin.  God is not a respecter of one nation over another, even though He chose to work specifically through the Jewish people to bring salvation through Jesus the Messiah. James pushed the point in a different direction to say that God does not respect rich or powerful over the poor or weak.

          Jesus is certainly not a dis-respecter of persons.  Quite the opposite is true.  He died just as completely and thoroughly for every person regardless of the perceived magnitude of their sin, or the way they dress or what nation they were born in.  It might even be a good argument that Jesus is the ultimate respecter of all persons-- because He died equally for all. 

          Some might view that as disrespect because they want to be special or regarded at least a little more highly than others.  But that is what grace is all about and why it is so amazing.  Grace is the unmerited favor of God expressed in Jesus. It is by this grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:8-9 NIV). 


         O God, thank You for Your amazing grace.  Thank You for valuing me enough to die for me.  Thank You for valuing that person I didn't think was worthy.  I will value them in the same way that You did, with Your help and Your Spirit.  In Jesus' Name.


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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2009, 2020

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)       

2820 Business Center Blvd.

Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200

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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.