Have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:4)

ERIC LOVED BEING PASTOR at New Hope, but he’d never learn how to love what the recession was doing to so many of his parishioners. In the suburban community he had served before, most recessions were temporary blips on the radar screen. Here, a recession meant layoffs. His blue-collar congregation was growing in numbers but not in economic well-being. To make things more challenging, the church had an antiquated bylaw that required deacons to wear suits and ties to serve communion. That eliminated several of the new and younger deacons from taking a leadership role in that part of the service. It seemed especially odd because a few of them had come to faith in Jesus Christ after long discussions with Eric in which he had assured them that their economic straits would never lessen their value to God or His people.

James made it a point to remind first-century Christians that outward appearances and economic differences could never be standards for fellowship in the early church. That kind of discrimination would needlessly fragment relationships between believers, people from all sorts of backgrounds who desperately needed each other in a dangerous time.

Thankfully, Eric’s challenge to the outdated suit edict met with unanimous support. The people at New Hope made an undeniable statement that they valued each other far more than they did appearances.

Ponder: “Do I judge people based on outward appearances?”

Steve Wamberg is a husband, dad, writer, and pastor who loves preaching, teaching, music, coffee, and Nebraska football.

© 2018 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.