Partiality and Profiling

Partiality, favoring one thing over another, is seen in many aspects of life. Common expressions lend themselves to this: the teacher’s pet, the star player, and the best friend. We choose filet mignon over liver, mountains over plains, and trucks over VW bugs. Certainly, in life we have to make judgments. Assuming these choices are acceptable, are there times when partiality is not acceptable? Taking this question further, could profiling be considered a form of partiality? One object is given closer scrutiny than another under profiling. To be clear, I have no problem profiling terrorists or criminals. The facts are that percentages support profiling. As recent as November 2010, a terrorist was caught in Oregon. Was he Christian? No. Was he an old grandmother? No. Was he Muslim? Ding, Ding, Ding, Ding! The question I want to examine further is: Are partiality and/or profiling acceptable in the eyes of God?

From the Book of James, the following passage is found:
James 2:1-4 – My brethren, hold not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come into your synagogue a man with a gold ring, in fine clothing, and there come in also a poor man in vile clothing; and ye have regard to him that weareth the fine clothing, and say, Sit thou here in a good place; and ye say to the poor man, Stand thou there, or sit under my footstool; Do ye not make distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

The respect of persons or partiality is discussed in this passage. The context lends itself to the sharing and reception of the Word of God and Kingdom. Men and women of all financial means, colors, sizes, backgrounds, and sinfulness come to God. None is more welcome than the next, but all are equally welcome to enjoy the fruit of being a child of God. This verse does not comment on whether or not one can be partial or profile an individual in regard to secular means, but it certainly does state that one cannot profile or be partial in regard to who God invites into His Kingdom.

The apostle Paul had an encounter with false teachings when he was in Antioch (Acts 14:26-Acts 15), it was believed that these teachings had come from the Church in Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas went there to make certain falsehoods were not being taught. Here he profiles based on knowledge that he has been given. The folks in Jerusalem not only included the Lord’s brother, but apostles. Paul was not partial in seeking out to correct any man spiritually. He would approach them regardless of rank. However, he tests the situation first. He sets up a profiling if you would. He talks to folks who are suspects and gathers data for a conclusion. Ultimately, he learns the concerns regarding the Church, its leaders, and the apostles to be false.

Paul demonstrates his ability not to be partial again in (Galatians 2:11-21). In this instance, he rebukes the Apostle Peter for acting contrary to the word of God. Peter himself was showing partiality in regard to Jews, eating with them instead of the Gentiles. Peter’s actions were based on fear, because the Jews had issues with the Gentiles being partakers of God’s Kingdom and he did not want to incur their displeasure. You will note again the context is that of spirituality, that is adherence to the Word of God. In this Paul is not partial. Paul did profile Peter though based on knowledge . He knew Peter was in violation of the Word of God. He was an eye witness to all information needed. Thus, he gave his judgment.

Consider now the words of John regarding false teachers:
1 John 4:1 – Beloved, believe not every spirit, but prove the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

John, an apostle, a man inspired by the Holy Spirit to give God’s words, says test men to see if they are from God. Profile them! Set up a test and if they don’t meet that test then they need to be examined closer. Is John saying be partial and only profile certain people? No, he says apply your test to everyone.

So think about this. Of the terror crimes committed against the United States in recent history, 100% have been Muslim. Thus, does it not make sense to “test the spirits”, that is all people, to see who is Muslim? Then based on that data further examine them as security risks? If your house was robbed by a 7 foot tall white man, are you going to not profile based on that data? You don’t go looking for a 5’0” Asian female. You look at all people and then when you see a 7 foot tall white man you examine further. You are not being partial, you are being wise.

Let’s look further at the words of Christ in regard to profiling:
Matthew 7:18-21 – A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Christ is not partial in regard to trees. He made them all. However, he does establish a method of profiling. He says to look for ones producing good fruit. I used to pick apples and pears in a fruit orchard. There are some trees that produce great fruit! It is large, sweet, not scabby, no worms. There are also some fruit trees that turn out wormy, small fruit, fungus, etc. You don’t sell fruit like that. Well, Christ does not accept bad fruit either. He says you will be able to profile them based on knowledge. This verse is figurative. It applies to knowing men by the deeds. Christ is very clear that he expects us to profile and do so on knowledge.

Before closing, leaving the assertions that partiality is not acceptable and profiling with knowledge is, let’s examine one more verse:
John 13:23 – There was at the table reclining in Jesus’ bosom one of his disciples, whom Jesus loved.

Gasp! Jesus was partial??? Yes, he was. Note, that in all other examples, the partiality in discussion had to do with not favoring one person over another to the extent false conclusions or treatment in regard to the Word of God was concerned. Christ here was simply expressing a delight in one person over another for reasons which did not conflict with the Gospel. Partiality can be exercised with those whom you might choose to fellowship more closely. An individual can be partial in regard to what they might eat. Partiality can be expressed in regard to where an individual might vacation.

In answer to the question are partiality and/or profiling acceptable in the eyes of God? You cannot be partial in regard to the Word of God and who its invitation and judgments extent toward. However, partiality as it exists under the realm of personal preferences is acceptable. Profiling with knowledge is also acceptable under the authority of God and is in fact encouraged. The inclusion of knowledge is important, because without having knowledge, that is by assuming and going forward with rebuke, chastisement, or punishment, the individual may do a grave harm to the individual upon whom they have focused their words or action. This is true when discussing matters secular or theological or when punishing a presumed terrorist just because they were Muslim.

Matthew 10:16 – Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

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