Give Me Your Eyes

God gave Samuel a job to do.  He was supposed to pick the new King of Israel from among the sons of Jesse.  As he began to examine each of Jesse’s sons, he decided which one he thought that God should choose.  But God warned Samuel that He looked with different eyes:  “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).  Samuel was thinking just like most of us think.  As he looked on the sons of Jesse, he saw only what was on the outside.  But like most of us, that was enough for Samuel to choose his favorite.

James talks about this type of thinking in the second chapter of his epistle.  He gives us a hypothetical scenario.  There is a gathering of believers, probably a church service.  The host of the assembly sees two men walk through the door.  One of the men is dressed in beautiful, shining garments.  He has gold rings on his fingers and is obviously someone of great importance and influence.  Then the host sees another man.  His clothes are old and somewhat shabby.  He is obviously a poor man and of little importance.  The host decides to offer the rich man a front row seat and a place of honor, but he tells the poor man to stand off to the side or sit at his feet.  James says that by doing these things the host has “made distinctions...and become [a judge] with evil thoughts” (James 2:4). Does that sound harsh?

James gives three reasons why judging this way is a bad idea.

First, God doesn’t judge this way.  James reminds his readers that God did not choose us because we are talented, good looking or wealthy.  In fact God delights in choosing those who have little to offer so that He can use them to exalt himself (James 2:5).  James teaches that someone who has been changed by the gospel does not judge others with partiality (James 2:1).  If God poured out his favor and grace only to those who he thought deserving of it, we would all be in serious trouble.

The second reason James gives for not showing favoritism, is that often our judgment is faulty--we desire honor from the wrong people.  James reminds his readers that the influential of this world are usually not kindly disposed to Christ’s followers.  He tells them that the rich and famous are the ones taking advantage of them in business and suing them at every opportunity (James 1:6).  It is sadly ironic that the people that the believers were most seeking to impress were the very ones that were trying to take advantage of them at every turn.

Finally James reminds them that the world did not love Jesus so they aren’t going to love us.  So much is their dislike for Jesus and his followers, that the rich and influential are often the ones blaspheming the name of Christ (James 1:7).  James question is simple: Why would you show favoritism toward those who take advantage of you and do not follow Christ?

Favoritism leads to distinctions and factions in the body of Christ.  Favoritism is deadly to unity.  It kills harmony and breeds discontent.  These distinctions lead to disunity which causes arguments and quarrels among God’s people.  It is a terrible testimony if God’s people cannot demonstrate love towards one another.  Our love is what sets us apart and shows the world that we are Jesus’ followers (John 13:35).  This is the conclusion of James’ argument.  He says that our judgment of someone else should not be based on our partial perspective, but it should be based on the perspective of love.  The “law of love” as James describes it should be the lens through which we see everyone.  We should not see a rich man and a poor man coming into our assembly, but see two people who need to know firsthand the love of Jesus.  When we see people through God's eyes, it leads to unity and harmony in the body of Christ.

God, give us your eyes so we can see people like you see them and love them like you love them.

[While writing this article, I listened to Give Me Your Eyes, by Brandon Heath]

Give me your eyes for just one second,
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing.
Give me Your love for humanity.
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten.
Give me your eyes so I can see.

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