Max is not a people person kind of dog. There four people in his life that he loves—me, my husband, my son, and my daughter. Oh, he tolerates a few others—my son’s girlfriend, a couple of my daughter’s friends, and the cat. But on the whole, Max pretty much believes in the old saying, “my four and no more.”
That was made evident the day we invited the varsity football team over to our house. As part of pre-game day tradition, parents of varsity football players have started making dinner for the team on Thursday nights. Around 5:30, the first boy arrived. Max barked when the car pulled into the driveway just as he always does, but when the boy came into the house, Max promptly grabbed his pant leg and started tugging. I couldn’t get him to stop. Fearful that his actions might turn even more aggressive, I shut Max up in our bedroom for the duration of the meal. It would have worked, if my daughter hadn’t gone into the bedroom for something. Out shot Max, barking, growling, the hair on his back standing straight on end. I must admit, I laughed when I saw all twenty of those macho football players pull their feet up onto the couch. Fortunately, once Max warmed up to everyone, he was pretty much content to ignore the intruders and everyone went home without a scratch.
Later that night, Max lay curled up on the loveseat next to me, his cold little nose tucked into the crook of my arm.
“It’s funny how he can be so loving to us, and so aggressive toward everyone else,” my husband said.
“Yep. I’d say he’s partial to us,” I replied, laughing.
But that got me to thinking.
Are there certain people I show partiality to? Do I show favor to some and not others? Has my church become a place where I’m content to say, “my four and no more?” Too many times, I’m afraid the answer to these questions would be yes. Even more frightening is the idea that my favor may be influenced by a person’s wealth or position in the community. I guess that’s why God saw fit to warn against showing partiality, and why I’m inclined to listen.
James 2:1-11 (New King James Version)
Beware of Personal Favoritism
1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.