The Discriminating Heart

Our God does not show partiality or favoritism, and neither should we (Deut. 10: 17-19). Created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1: 26, 27), all mankind is to be treated without bias or prejudice. Instead of discriminating as judges with evil thoughts toward those who are different from us, we are called to love all of our neighbors as we love ourselves (John 13: 34).

Racism in varying forms and various degrees has been a part of the human condition since the dawn of time. This social ill has been a struggle among family groups, between ethnicities, and across religious, political, cultural  and socioeconomic backgrounds for generations. Victims of bigotry, hatred, and intolerance have been judged and tainted in the hearts of others, including by those who claim the name of Christ as Lord.  The Bible is clear about this issue and there is little we can dismiss as inappropriate for our own place and time in history.

God so loved the world – every ethnic group on planet earth – that he gave his only begotten Son to lay down his life for us (John 3: 16). Jesus, the great reconciler, invites his followers to be united in Him and lovers of one another.  “Do not judge, or you too will be judged,” Jesus teaches in Matthew 7:1, 2, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Peter has a vision and preaches to the early church at Cornelius’ home about this same topic, “God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right,” Acts 10: 34, 35. The Apostle Paul picks up on this same topic in his ministry to the body of Christ, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you,” Romans 12: 3.  And to the Galatians, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” Galatians 3:28.

In James 2: 1-26 this theme is highlighted in the form of favoritism, specifically between economic distinctions, “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 you 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?”

No matter where we turn in the Scriptures to enlighten our hearts and minds on this subject, there is an accompanying mandate to act in accordance with God’s priorities. Nowhere do we find God choosing favorites, showing bias against, preferring one over another, or speaking intolerantly toward those He created in His image. Discriminating against any person created in the image of God is simply not appropriate at any time or for any reason. Bigotry and prejudice and preferential treatment does not belong in the Church now or ever. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we must take the lead in speaking up for any and all victims of discrimination.

Today our world is filled with hateful prejudice and judgmental partiality. Our biases toward those we agree with and against those with whom we differ deters the unity God desires among His people. Those who participate in any form of prejudice or partiality need to repent and seek forgiveness. This is where the truth of the gospel is practiced most specifically. Are you willing to admit that your heart at times discriminates against another? Do you see the log in your own eye, while looking so basely at the speck in someone else’s eye? For what offense of prejudicial accusation must you seek forgiveness? Your holy boldness of love, confession, and affirmation toward those you’ve wronged in your heart will lead to the freedom to serve and bless others like never before. Be free, dear friend!