Memorise: Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. – 1 Timothy 5:20
Read: 1 Timothy 5:17-21 (KJV)
17 Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.
18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.
19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
21 I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.
Bible in One Year: 1 Chronicles 10-12, Proverbs 27:15-28:1
Partiality is defined as a favourable bias or prejudice. It could also mean a special fondness, or preferential treatment. The Bible speaks against partiality as an abomination in the sight of God. Partiality is especially evil because it leads to divisions, intrigue, envy, hatred, and unhealthy competition among the people of God. It is also terrible, in that it places the poor and the weak at a disadvantage. In any organization or community where partiality is practiced, peace and unity will be a rare commodity. The book of James reveals that the poor have a very important place in the Church because of the leveling effect of the Christian gospel. Also the nature and make-up of the Church has no place for the social classifications and distinctions of the world. In fact, if a Christian body should give any consideration to these distinctions, it becomes, by fact, evil, and sides with the wealthy who persecute Christians.
From the account of Genesis, it was favouritism that fuelled the fire of contention between Joseph and his brothers. The Bible has much to say about the pitfalls of partiality. In the Old Testament, favouritism is usually associated with injustice and bribery. But it was James who condemned partiality most harshly. As a leader in the early church, James witnessed Christians showing preference for wealthy members over poor ones. In his letter, James asks his audience a rhetorical question: “My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?” He said those who played favourites were like evil judges, and he condemned them for it: “But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and thus are convicted by the law as transgressors." His solution to the problem of partiality was simple. He issued the command: “Carry out the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”
It’s clear, in both Testaments, that any expression of favouritism is wrong and likely to produce disastrous consequences. Jacob’s disproportionate love for Joseph alienated Joseph from his brothers and eventually led to his enslavement. Jacob’s partiality also led to his greatest heartache – the loss of his son.
Because respect of persons or partiality is used biblically in a negative sense, the Bible declares several times that God is never guilty of partiality. Paul clearly states in a universal context that God does not show partiality or respect of persons in His judgment of the works of individuals. God’s impartiality is made the basis for Paul’s command to Christian masters to treat their slaves fairly since there is no favouritism with God, their own great Master in heaven (Ephesians 6:9). Paul uses this attitude of God to encourage the Christian slave to serve his master wholeheartedly, since he will be repaid by his impartial God in heaven.
Prayer Point: Father, please purge my heart and Your Church of all acts of partiality and favouritism in Jesus’ name.