The Folly of Favoritism

Proverbs 24:23–25 23 These also are sayings of the wise. Partiality in judging is not good. 24 Whoever says to the wicked, “You are in the right,” will be cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations, 25 but those who rebuke the wicked will have delight, and a good blessing will come upon them.

We all see manifestations of favoritism. In school we witness students having the teacher’s favor getting by with questionable behavior without reprimand and experiencing special kindness in the grading of assignments and tests. There are work associates who seem to consistently get the manageable tasks and then get the most glowing annual reviews. Then there are the social events attended by the well-educated and those who are well-off. The gathering of admirers around them is steady and ever-changing, and those departing their presence act as if they are achieving prominence from the afterglow of being with them.

Favoritism comes in many forms and packages, and it is the baser side of our humanity that seeks to maximize personal significance and influence through partiality. So, when it comes to followers of Jesus who walk in the truth trying to govern behavior by biblical principle, we should expect to see consistent avoidance of the corrupting powers of personal preference no matter what form of expression they find. Unfortunately, what should be, and what is, are usually two different things.

The “sayings of the wise” recorded in the proverb referenced above, warns against making bad judgments when seeking to guide the people of God in congregational relationships. We know it is wrong to make bad judgments and we probably affirm the teaching of Isaiah 5:20. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” Nevertheless, there are things that cause people to say to the wicked, “You are in the right.”

Various earthly perspectives influence our opinions about people and their actions. We can feel compelled to side with people, even when they’re wrong because they are our family, they are our friends, they have money, they have power, they have prestige or the fact that they can make our lives miserable. Hence, God wants us to know that such decisions are not without consequences.

Those who observe us and those who are impacted by our decisions will eventually see our self-serving inconsistency. They will condemn our bias and scorn our unwillingness to be judicious (“cursed by peoples, abhorred by nations“). Our capriciousness will be seen even by a society that is driven by polls and popularity. We will eventually become unreliable and untrustworthy to most people.

It is true that it is always right to do right. Holding to biblical convictions gives clear testimony that something higher than our whims and desires for acceptance, comfort, and advancement is governing our lives. The “greater” that governs us is our reliance on God and His truth as our standard. Then, no matter what happens, we have delight in Him and blessing from Him.

May God help us to see the folly of favoritism in all its shapes and sizes!