A few days ago I received an invitation from a very important person in my sphere. It was the kind of invitation you hate to turn down because you feel so special to have received it.
But I did. Turn it down. When I saw the date, I knew immediately that I had a prior engagement with someone else … someone more ordinary, for sure … but an engagement nonetheless. So with mild disappointment, I responded that I regretfully would be unable to attend.
Later, someone said, “Couldn’t you have changed your plans with person A?”
I suppose I could have, although with busy schedules it could have been weeks before we could get together again. But there was something else going on. I felt it wasn’t right to ditch Person A (who had considerately made plans with me far in advance) to join Person B — simply because of Person B’s dazzle factor.
The phrase, “God is no respecter of persons” came to mind. The NIV translates this as “favoritism.” Consider these verses:
“Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly” (Lev. 19:15).
“For God does not show favoritism” (Rom. 2:11).
“I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and do nothing out of favoritism” (1 Tim. 5:21).
“But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers” (James 2:9).
Maybe I’m being overly sensitive, but I have been on the receiving end of being ditched by a friend for something, or someone, more important. It doesn’t feel good. It feels like a judgment call on my value.
In fact, I think it’s my flesh that tries to justify choosing one person over another simply because of their importance (or perceived importance). I think that’s what Scripture is warning us about. After all, God’s Kingdom is topsy-turvy — the last are first, we receive reward for things done in secret, our actions toward the “least of these” matter most. Showing favoritism gets in the way of those basic Kingdom principles.
So did I make the right decision? I think so. God doesn’t play favorites and neither should I.