Does God show favoritism? Like just about everything in life the answer is Yes and No. We have to define specifics. Everyone shows favoritism in some ways. For example, if you and your son are in the mall and he asks you for $5 you might give it to him; however, if some strange boy walks up and asks for $5 you would likely refuse. Are you playing favourites? Yes. Are you justified in doing so? Again, yes.
Let's begin looking at our subject of Does God Show favoritism by looking at the ways in which God does not show favoritism. Keep in mind that we must always consider context. No verse or even chapter stands alone. They are all part of a bigger picture, as we see in our course on how the study the Bible for yourself called: Feed Yourself.
"Wherefore now let the fear of the LORD be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the LORD our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts." 2 Chr. 19:7
"And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:" 1 Peter 1:17
The above verses are talking about judgment. God will judge everyone in time and eternity. In His judgment God does not show favoritism. No one will be able to buy their way to a lighter sentence or freedom. God cannot be bribed. He will not favour the rich when He passes judgment. Neither will He favor the poor because they may have been disadvantaged. A cute smile, a winsome personality, or a careless technicality will not help. In judgment everyone's life will come under God's microscope and God will show no favoritism. [Our law courts are supposed to be a reflection of God's justice and should not show favoritism either.] To show this kind of favoritism is sin, and God is without sin.
"But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;" Rom. 2:10-12
"Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God. Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." Acts 10:33-35
God is not a racist. No one receives favoured treatment because of their ethnic background either in judgment or in position in the Kingdom of God. People from every nation are welcomed equally into the Kingdom of God. In the New Testament times this was a great controversy as many Jews felt God could only work with them or through them. The Jewish nation thought God would show favoritism to them simply because they were Jews. They believed that the Gentiles had to become Jewish converts to become Christians. Many verses in the New Testament combat this idea. Unfortunately some Christians today, misunderstanding the purpose of Israel in the Bible, have revived this myth.
"For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." Gal. 3:27-28
"And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all." Col. 3:10-11
In addition, we can see that God does not show favoritism based on gender or social position. While men and women have differing responsibilities, both are equal in the sight of God. He does not play favorites with the sexes. Also, it doesn't matter if a person is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a prisoner suffering in jail, God looks at them the same way. He has no favoritism. With ungodly motives [James 2:1-13] we often show favoritism, but not God.
So we see that God does not show favoritism based on social position, ethnic background, gender, nor can He be bribed into changing His judgment on people. Some people immediately think of the case of David murdering Uriah and still escaping God's death penalty. We have written a full article on that called: The Strange Case Of David And Bathsheba.
The first point is a blow to our proud humanistic hearts. It is simply that God is God. He created and owns all that is, including you and I. He has an absolute right to do as He wishes without any explanation or justification to mankind at all.
"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day." Gen. 1:31, NIV
"If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it." Ps. 50:12, NIV
"Who in the world do you think you are to second-guess God? Do you for one moment suppose any of us knows enough to call God into question? Clay doesn't talk back to the fingers that mold it, saying, "Why did you shape me like this?" Isn't it obvious that a potter has a perfect right to shape one lump of clay into a vase for holding flowers and another into a pot for cooking beans? If God needs one style of pottery especially designed to show his angry displeasure and another style carefully crafted to show his glorious goodness, isn't that all right?" Rom. 9:20-23, The Message
Second, God shows favoritism based on Who He is and what He wants to do. It is not based on anything found in mankind. He chose, for example, who He would show mercy upon and give salvation to before He even created the world. God's absolute ownership gives Him the right to do that. The fact is, none of us deserves to be saved. When God chose someone to be saved He was giving them what they did not deserve. Like a man with a dollar standing before two identical beggars. He gives the dollar to one beggar. That beggar did not deserve the man's money, but he was given it in mercy and should be thankful. The other beggar has nothing to complain about because, likewise, he did not deserve the man's money and he is no worse off than before [Matt. 20:1-15].
"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves." Eph. 1:4-6, NIV
Third, God shows favoritism based on relationship. While God is the creator of all, and in that sense is Father of all, He is the Father of those whom He has saved in a special redemptive sense. They are His family. Like a natural father favours his own family and especially cares for and protects them, so God shows favoritism and cares for His own family in a special way.
"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy." 1 Peter 2:9-10
Lets look at a case that a reader brought to my attention as an example of God showing favoritism. Although it may not be what the reader intended, it is an example of judgment and hope.
The example is King Manasseh, one of the last kings of Judah. His story can be found in 2 Chr. 33. It is not a nice story to read. King Manasseh was probably the worst king Judah ever had. Although he had a Godly father, King Hezekiah, he rejected the ways of God. He defiled the temple of God, he worshipped the stars and false gods, he promoted sexual perversion, he worked with witches, he filled Jerusalem with murder, and even committed child sacrifice using his own sons. Tradition has it that he was the one who ordered the prophet Isaiah's murder by having him sawn in half. He led Judah into worse sins than any of the heathen nations around them. In fact, he was the one who took Judah past the Point Of No Return. God's Judgment was going to come. Even his grandson, the Godly King Josiah, could not turn back the judgment, he could only delay it. Manasseh took God's national mercy to an end.
King Manasseh was about as evil as anyone could be. But before we pass judgment on him, let us look at our own nations. The Western nations have a Godly heritage won by the sweat, tears and blood of many Godly men and women who sacrificed and suffered to give us what we have today. But we have allowed our own King Manassehs to rule. Government law removes prayer and the ten commandments. Crosses and other Christian symbols are taken down from display on public property. Law courts rule against all things Christian. We turn to Eastern religions, the occult, and the ever-popular religion of humanism with its atheistic high priests. In fact, we send our children by the millions, sometimes at the risk of their very lives, to be trained and educated by these anti-God brain-washers. We allow sexual perverts and the rebellious to run wild and to promote their lifestyles in mainstream music, movies, schools, and throughout society. Criminals are allowed to escape justice or are herded into prison instead of facing Godly justice. The blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent children is spilled by professional assassins as their parents bring them to be sacrificed simply because they are unwanted or inconvenient. Are we in a position to stand in judgment on King Manasseh?
God did indeed bring King Manasseh and Judah into judgment. God allowed the King of Assyria to invade and defeat Judah. The Assyrians were very cruel and merciless. [They were the ones who perfected the technique of totally skinning a person while keeping them alive.] We can be sure that King Manasseh and the people of Judah paid dearly for their rebellion against God.
But that is not the end of the story. While a captive in Assyria, King Manasseh had time to think. He realized he had been wrong. He humbled himself and repented of his evil ways. God then heard his prayer and restored him to the throne of Judah. He proved the genuineness of his repentance by trying to undo all the harm he had done. True, it was too late to avoid totally national judgment, which would come when the Babylonians invaded later, but it was a start.
Did King Manasseh get everything he deserved? No. Did God show favoritism to him? In a way, yes, but it is the same favoritism that He will show to every person - no matter how bad - who will humble themselves and genuinely repent of their sins. If King Manasseh can repent and be restored, then anyone can. God looks at the heart. He knows real repentance from "I just want to get out of trouble" repentance.
Have our Western nations passed the Point Of No Return? Is judgment coming no matter what? Only God knows. However, if we are to have any hope we must take the path of King Manasseh, repent of our sins and work at restoring a Godly society. If not judgment will come for sure. It may be with disease, natural disaster, foreign invasion or any combination. It will not be pretty. Except for brief periods Judah never did regain what they lost after the Babylonian captivity. If we lose what we have, we may never get it back.
So, does God show favoritism? Yes and No. Let's choose to be on the right side.