I’m partial toward chocolate, cotton clothing, water rather than coffee and staying home rather than going shopping. Is this the kind of partiality the Bible means when Peter said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality . . .” ? (Acts 10:34)
An older and dear friend once said, “Loving God does not mean I stop loving my wife.” Is impartiality like that — loving every one even though some are loved more or differently than others?
One dictionary says it means: “not biased, fair.” Those are simple words, yet impartial is difficult to describe; how does it work out in real life? And what does it mean that God is impartial? He saves some and not others. That does not seem impartial. He also sends rain on the just and the unjust, but not everyone experiences the same comforts in life. Is He partial to those who are comfortable?
For God, impartial points to His lack of being impressed by what impresses us. Jesus even said that what we exalt is an abomination in the sight of God. (Luke 16:15) He does not base His choices on worldly things like wealth or poverty, morality or immorality, learning or ignorance, race or face. He does not bestow grace on people because of what we are. His choices are free from bias or being affected by anything that might affect us.
God said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. (Romans 9:15–18)
The Lord accepted Abel but not Cain. He chose Isaac and rejected Ishmael. God loved Jacob and hated Esau. God gives light and withholds light, gives grace and withholds grace entirely according to his own sovereign will, without any regard to man’s person.
This does not make sense to us, mostly because our decisions are based on our preferences. This is not true of God. For us, things like chocolate vs. vanilla, or tea vs. coffee are not an issue, but putting some people above others out of preference is an issue.
‘God is no respecter of persons,’ and neither should we be. There is no place in the church of God for partiality, nor should there be in my heart. I’m not to seek out certain people as my friends, or to dislike others because of preference. All who worship God are my brothers and sisters and to be treated with equal love, care and esteem. Rich and poor, black and white, male and female—are all equals in Christ and I am to think as He thinks: “There is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:10)
God has been merciful to me. He has included me in His kingdom. Instead of questioning His choices, I’m to be thankful. Instead of looking down on anyone, whether outside His kingdom or in His family, I am to have a compassionate heart, be kind, humble, meekness, and patient. If there are problems or complaints, I am to forgive others, just as the Lord has forgiven me. And above all these I’m to put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:11–14)
Jesus, You love with a perfect love. You showed this in life and even in death by praying for Your executioners, “Father, forgive them . . . .” Love is not a mushy sentiment that ignores sin, for You will eventually judge all who refuse to repent, but love does show mercy to even the worst of sinners, to those of us who once thought we could live our lives without You. Your grace means I am unconditionally loved and therefore set free to love and live without partiality.