Growing up as the middle child, I always felt that my parents favoured my brothers.
I wasn’t as good as they were in both my studies and swimming, and I would feel pangs of jealousy whenever my parents praised my brothers for their achievements and gave them first pick of all the food and presents.
I also felt the injustice of being scolded the most and forgiven the least whenever we made mistakes together.
Though I may have unfairly judged my parents as a child, this perception of being unfairly treated had significant negative effects on my emotional well-being—my self-esteem took a blow and I often felt inferior to my brothers and unloved.
It was not until I became a Christian in my youth, that I gradually started to recover my self-esteem. I was convicted of the truth that regardless of how I performed, God loves me unconditionally.
Admittedly, I have also been a perpetrator of favouritism. In school and at my workplace, I have treated certain classmates and colleagues better because I liked their personalities more than others.
In doing so, I never stopped to consider what effects my actions had on those around me. When we are the ones being favoured or the ones perpetuating it, we are likely to trivialise it.
James, however, reminds us that favouritism contravenes the royal law of Christ to love our neighbour as ourselves. He even mentions favouritism in the same breath as murder and adultery, placing them side by side as violations of not just one component, but the whole law of God (James 2: 8-11).
When I look back at my past experiences, I realise that at the heart of favouritism is a glaring lack of brotherly love toward another. Isn’t that essentially at the heart of all sin? As Galatians 5:14 tells us, “the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’”
Let us examine our lives and turn to God in all humility.
When we show favouritism, we do not consider the feelings of the one who has been victimised and and how he has been impacted. Instead of loving them, we are hurting them.
This not only reduces that person’s self-worth – it leaves a scar on his heart. And it denies him his identity as a much-loved child of God, negatively shaping his character and future actions.
In the Bible, we read of accounts of favouritism which led to resentment and ultimately, undesirable outcomes. Sarah’s preference for Isaac and her ill-treatment of Hagar and her son Ishmael led to a break-up of Abraham’s family. Isaac’s unequal treatment of his two sons, Esau and Jacob, drove a wedge between them. And Jacob’s favouritism toward Joseph led to his older brothers resenting him and selling him off as a slave.
Are we also guilty of trivialising this sin of favouritism? Do we cast a blind eye to this hideous sin when we commit it, not realising how grave its consequences really are?
Let us examine our lives and turn to God in all humility. Let us ask Him to help us attain an understanding of His law and remove this subtle sin from our personal lives, so that we may live a life of authentic faith with the genuine love of Christ for our neighbour.
This article was first published on YMI.today, and is republished with permission.