You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great. Leviticus 19:15
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,the Lord of glory. James 2:1
I had never thought of showing partiality or being unjust as a bondage from which we need to be set free. But the hymn verse that the Moravians shared with this text reads:
So brothers, sisters, praise his name
who died to set us free
from sin, division, hate, and shame,
from spite and enmity!
Think about it though: showing partiality seems to be a matter of putting other people into a bind, and refusing to give them freedom in our hearts and lives to be thought well of, to succeed, or to gain access to our hearts. That seems to put them in bondage.
When we put others in such bondage, however, we actually bind ourselves and put ourselves in a place we do not really want to be. The example comes to mind of part of the book, The Shack. It is described this way:
Jesus directs Mack to a cave like entrance, which Mack unsteadily enters into. He comes to a chair sitting in the middle of an open space which he sits in. A beautiful Latina woman appears, and begins a barrage of questioning that intentionally lead Mack down a path of his judgment.
Mack’s judgment, however, is not the judgement on him, but his judgement on others. He quickly discovers he is not fit to judge; he cannot draw the conclusions he was ready to draw when the time comes.
If wonder if we were to encounter the true depths of our prejudice and partiality, we would experience the same thing and come to the same conclusion. We cannot sit in judgement of others. We cannot deny one person one then and give the same to another. It puts us in bondage to a transactional love and score-keeping the boundaries of which will ever tighten around our hearts.
Only God’s unconditional love frees from such bondage. For he loves us and our neighbor. And if we are to claim his love for our own we cannot withhold it from our neighbor. Jesus has shown no partiality toward or against us. His love for us is the perfect pattern for loving others.