Sunday, November 8, 2009


We all know that we're not really supposed to play favorites. That's because secretly all of us want to be the favorite. When favorites are chosen, that sets up a system where there are winners and losers, and all of us long to be chosen and dread being left out. That's why God doesn't play favorites. He loves all of us and wants us all to be included in His wonderful kingdom. We're so used to comparing ourselves to others, however, that we can have trouble dealing with God's lack of favoritism. If we don't feel favored, then we worry that we're unfavored, that others have been chosen over us. We sometimes even create a false notion of being more beloved than our neighbors. Jesus had a lot to say about that kind of hypocrisy when he came down to Earth, but we still haven't entirely learned the lesson.

We often have trouble differentiating favoritism from uniqueness in personal relationships. If we notice that we are being treated differently from another person, then we assume that there must be a value judgment implicit in that. Humans are not a 'one size fits all' race, however. I can't treat all of my friends the same because they have different needs and interests. If I choose to take one friend with me to an event, it will be because I think that friend will enjoy this particular experience the most, not because I like that friend better than my other friends. I will also choose different friends to help me with different tasks based upon their own individual strengths.

Likewise, God treats us all a little differently because His relationship with each of us is unique. God may need to be firm with one person and gentle with another depending on their emotional states. God calls some people to high-profile missions because they have the skills necessary to do the job, not because they are His favorites. God has a mission for each of us, and that mission is custom-fit to us. When God encourages or disciplines us, He uses the method that will work best on each of us. It's truly marvelous that God knows us all well enough to customize His relationship with each of us. If God responds to us differently from others sometimes, we should see that as a sign of God's great love for us and for others, not as favoritism.

Of course, we're not as fair and impartial as God, so sometimes we do have favorites. What's important is for us to keep favoritism from obscuring the ways we can meet the unique needs of the people in our lives. I can't devote all of my time to my husband just because he has a special place in my life. I also need to meet the needs of the other people I love. Likewise, I can't try to treat all of my friends the same out of a fear that they might think I'm playing favorites if I don't. I need to challenge myself to evaluate each person's needs on an individual basis so that I can love everyone in my life to the best of my ability. Even if I do have favorites, I should remember how important the other people in my life are too. I don't want to get by with just a best friend—all of my friends are precious to me. So I will invest in all of them, because they are all special.

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