Without Prejudice

love, prejudice No Comments

In I Tim. 5:21, Paul by the Holy Spirit writes, “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.” Paul made a solemn charge to Timothy to carry out his ministry without partiality (prejudice).
Definition of Prejudice
W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, III, p. 204, states that the word prejudice is from the Greek word prokrima which means prejudging. He also states, “preferring one person, another being put aside, by unfavorable judgment due to partiality.” Prejudice involves two aspects. The first is partiality or respect of persons. Without partiality means that we do not show favoritism to one person over another or, negatively, that we do not show ill-will to one person over another based upon who they are or how they look. This is an attribute of fairness in dealing with others. God is no respector of persons (Acts 10:34)! This attribute of our heavenly Father is one that we can and should imitate (James 2:1-10). James makes the practical application of the principle. He denounces the favoritism that might be shown in a worship assembly to one who is dressed in expensive clothing (the rich) over one who is not dressed in costly apparel (the poor). The second aspect of prejudice is prejudging. To pre-judge is to judge before we have the facts or the truth. We make up our minds before we have the facts. In John 7:24, we are instructed to judge righteous judgment. Righteous judgment is based upon the truth. We must wait and gather the facts before we draw a conclusion. Judgment based upon the truth eliminates stereotypes. A stereotype is where we establish a preconceived way of thinking about people and judging people that molds our opinions about them. Some examples of social stereotypes include: all black people are lazy and white men can’t jump. Stereotypes are ways of prejudging people based upon a generalization of some aspect or characterization of them that betrays our feelings of superiority. Prejudice involves both partiality and prejudging. God condemns this type of thinking and the behavior it generates.
Types of Prejudice
There are many types of prejudice, but three are worthy of mention in this article. The first is racial prejudice. Racial prejudice involves judging people based upon the color of their skin rather than the content of their character. Or, another way of stating is that we judge people on the basis of the ethnicity rather than the truth about their lives. The second type of prejudice is religious prejudice. Judging people based upon their religious affiliation rather than the truth of their personal beliefs and practices. An example of this type of prejudice can be seen in the conversion account of Michael Shank who wrote the book, Muscle and Shovel. In this book, Michael relates an incident in which members of the church of Christ were called “water dogs” a derrogatory term given because Christians in these congregations believe that baptism is essential for salvation and that it is an immersion in water. Third, there is relational prejudice. Relational prejudice is where we judge people based upon their social status or birthplace or some other factor rather than the truth of who they are. Jesus was from Nazareth where He grew up. Later, in His public ministry, there were those who castigated Him by saying, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth” (John 1:46). Nazareth may have had a bad reputation, but the savior of the world came from Nazareth. The statement was prejudicial. It is also an example of the “genetic fallacy” the fallacy of origins. In James 2:1-10, James denounces those who show prejudice based upon social standing.
Errors of Prejudice
All types of prejudice violate the law of love. Jesus states this law in Matthew 22:36-39. The first and greatest commandment is to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind. The second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as ourself. The law of love is illustrated in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). In this parable, Jesus teaches that racial prejudice is wrong. The hero is a Samaritan who was despised by the Jews. The Jews referred to Samaritans as “dogs.” But, when Jesus asked who was neighbor to the man who fell among the thieves, the correct response was “he who showed compassion.” In other words, the one who showed love for his fellowman. Prejudice also violates the law of justice. Justice is based upon truth. Prejudice involves pre-judging before all the facts are available. It is judging based upon preconceived ideas. For justice to be served, the truth must be known and preserved. Prejudice also violates the law of unity. In Galatians 3:26-28, Paul indicates that “in Christ” we are all “one.” Spiritual union with Christ occurs when we believe in Christ and obey His commands. The result of spiritual union with Christ is that we are all one “there is no more Jew or Greek, bond or free, male or female.” We all take on a new spiritual identity and are just Christians. Prejudice destroys this unity and causes division which does untold harm to the body of Christ.
Prevention of Prejudice.
Prejudice can be prevented by developing authentic love for one another. In Ephesians 5:1-2, Paul declares, “Be ye followers of God as dear children and walk in love as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.” Love is selfless and results in sacrifice. Love is humble. Love slays pride which is at the root of prejudice. Love slays feelings of superiority. Love will forego a right to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Prejudice can be prevented by seeking the truth in all situations. What does God say? What are the facts? Pursue the truth and you will be rewarded with righteous judgments. Prejudice can be prevented through self-examination. Prejudicial judgments are condemned by Jesus in Matt. 7:1-3. We attempt to remove the speck in our brother’s eye while we have a beam in our own eye! First, remove the beam in your own eye! Judging begins with our own heart! See also I Cor. 11:28 and II Cor. 13:5.
The remedy for prejudice will not come through politicians or the laws of men. It will come through surrender of the heart to God’s Will. Only God can transform the human heart through the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.