James is going to tell us exactly why favoritism is such a serious sin down in verses 5-11; but for now I want you to notice the hint he gives us here in verse 1.
He says our faith is in whom? The glorious Lord Jesus Christ. When you say you put your faith in Christ what are you saying? One of the things you are saying is that He is glorious. That He is worthy of exaltation. That He is famous. That He is worthy of our honor. When you show favoritism you are glorying in the wrong person.
These two terms Christ and glory go together. They are inextricably linked. We serve a glorious Savior. Our Savior is exalted far above all. There is no one and nothing here on earth that even compares to Him. When you think awesome, when you think worthy of respect, when you think glory, you need to think Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:8 calls Him the Lord of glory. Colossians 3:4 says that Christ is now in glory. 2 Thessalonians 2:14 explains that glory belongs to Him. 1 Timothy 3:16 says that he was taken up to glory, and Titus 2:13 tells us that when he returns that day will be full of glory. Glory belongs to Jesus Christ. He is the very definition of glory.
True believers shouldn’t be overawed or bedazzled by passing temporary worldly glory because our faith is in someone whose glory far outshines anyone or anything here on this earth, the Lord Jesus Christ. Your faith in the glorious Jesus Christ is incompatible with favoritism because when you show favoritism what are you doing? You are giving glory to man that belongs only to Christ. When you show favoritism you are giving the glory Jesus Christ deserves to some man who doesn’t.
I like how one pastor puts it, “We know the glory of God when we look by faith into the face of Jesus Christ. In any Christian congregation there is only one glory and that belongs to Jehovah Jesus, and we have to make sure that that is so. We have nothing else to offer men and women except Jesus Christ. Isaiah saw him in the temple and we see this same one by faith. All the wealth and fame and power of sinners is less than nothing compared to him. The name of Jesus does not borrow a thing from us – all the glory of men is like the flower of the field, withering and perishing….If a congregation were full of millionaires, and beauty queens, and the Philadelphia Eagles, and had the leadership of Mensa men with their IQ’s going through the roof – all that would give no additional glory to Jesus Christ. It would, of course, detract from it. In the presence of his glory all earthly achievements are less than dust. If you reject my Jesus Christ I cannot say to you, “Well, what do you think of these moral guidelines, family counsels, our choir, ideas about government and social action ?” My one task is to persuade you of the Lord’s glory, and if you see that than everything is new. If you don’t see that then our church being full of beautiful people will not help you at all. I cannot discriminate and highlight the wealthy, and tell you where the talent is in the congregation. If you become a Christian all this congregation will be your family. For your brothers and sisters there will be very different kinds of men and women. I have to point you to Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.”
That’s why Favoritism and Faith Don’t Mix. The church is not about the glory of man. It’s about the glory of Christ.