My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called? (James 2:1-7 ESV)
Have you ever been the new kid at school? I still remember when my family moved from Montana to Alabama (from the North-West to the South-East) and I started eighth grade in a new school. It was different. I was different than everyone and for the first several weeks of school it seemed like I did not have any friends. Not many people were willing to take a risk on me because I came from a different background. I tried hard to fit in but everyone else knew each other and to be honest my accent was different (think Canadian). It wasn’t until I learned that some other guys liked to play basketball and I tried out for the team that I finally found a group of friends.
James reminds us that we are not to treat some people better than others because they are rich but that we are to show hospitality to everyone, even those who cannot repay us. We are all made in the image of God. Just because someone is poor, new, or sounds funny it doesn’t give you the right in God’s eyes to make fun of them, be mean to them, or even treat them differently.