If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.James 2:8-10
A guest devotional from Hayley DiMarco
A heart broken in two, hanging from two chains. On one slice the word “best,” on the other “friend.” One hand stretched out to another saying, “your my BFF,” as all the other little eyes look on longingly, wondering why they didn’t get a half of the heart they longed for. I’ve watched it over and over again, the presenting of the best friend to the rest of the world. But what seems like a wonderful relationship between two children can actually create feelings of separation, isolation and rejection in those other kids who would call one of these two “friend.”
When two friends pair up and make a set out of themselves, wearing matching hats, jewelry or even clothes, the other friends who yearn to be with them are met with a sobering realization that they are the odd boy or girl out, that they haven’t been chosen. Sure they are friends, but they haven’t made the elite level of BFF, and another heart breaks in two. Maybe these odd friends out actually have activities scheduled with one of these BFFs. Maybe they feel a real connection with them, maybe they even call them their own BFF. But when her BFF of choice chooses another BFF what does the second-place third wheel do with the pain? How does one manage the rejection?
At a birthday party for an eight-year-old, I watched my daughter’s favorite friend receive an outfit from another friend who then proceeded to reveal that she bought the exact same outfit for herself, and they could be “twins.” On the drive home my daughter expressed what I myself have experienced flavors of even as an adult, that she felt bad when she saw her favorite friend dressing up like one of her other friends, and so call attention to their exclusive relationship. With an adept understanding of her own heart she explained that, that kind of thing separated the two, set them apart as a set, and made her feel excluded. As her little heart ached at the thought that the one she loved so much had chosen another more important friend; we talked about how God feels about BFFs.
Though she hurt, I wanted my daughter to understand that God doesn’t want us to show partiality, he wants us to love all, especially the unloveable. And as I talked to her about the idea of preferring only those people who you like being with the most, I felt the sting of conviction. Hadn’t I done the same thing? Hadn’t I chosen a circle of friends that I enjoyed more than others? While there isn’t anything wrong with enjoying people’s company, when I find myself too busy with those I prefer, to have time for those I don’t prefer, am I really living the way God calls me to live, without partiality? Reading James 2 slapped me in the face this morning when I read, “show no partiality.” How many times did I avoid the friend we all avoid who talks too much, in order to sit off in the corner with my favorite friend? Ugh! It’s so easy to look for enjoyment over service, and fun over mission. And I don’t think that most of us realize that we are hurting others in our search for our friend-mate. I don’t believe that we consider others of lesser value, but that is the message we are sending when we select our bestie. And that is what we are teaching our sons and daughters when we encourage them to express their BFF-ness.
Having a favorite person is wonderful feeling, even something to be thankful for, but perhaps we should keep these feelings private so that we don’t unwittingly hurt others who are not our favorites. We all recognize the devastation of cliques in schools, but when we encourage BFF behavior in our lives as believers, we unwittingly run afoul of the unthankfulness of partiality in James 2. In our lives, families, and churches, let’s cultivate a place where people are thankful that besties aren’t elevated to a place that breaks the hearts of the resties.
Questions to ponder
What was the name of your first best friend? Why were you best friends?
What are the most important qualities, for you, in a close friend relationship? Is that what you give as well?
How do you think impartiality in your friendships can lead to a more public thankful life?