To have respect of persons is not good: for for a piece of bread that man will transgress. – Proverbs 28:21
To “have respect of persons” means to favor someone more than everyone else. When I read this verse, my first thought was about politics. Politics is messy because of this verse. There are too many politicians who will “transgress” because he wants favor with a big-wig. (That’s what we Arkansans call rich people.) This leads to poor decision making on the part of the politician. Instead of being led by Scripture, or even good-ol’ common sense, he is only thinking about the interests of the one person who can make him successful.
On greater inspection, I see that this verse can apply to more than just politicians. It applies to all of us. Will we “respect” someone at work so much that we lie or cheat for them? It could happen. What about our children? Will they become so important to us, that we overlook serious character flaws which should be addressed? What about at church? James admonishes us not to have respect for the wealthy church members over the poor ones. (James 2:3)
I remember that this situation presented itself to us at one of the churches my husband pastored. A man offered to give us a car. We declined because it seemed so extravagant. Later, this man purchased three suits and a winter coat for my husband. We gratefully accepted these gifts, thinking nothing about it…until a few weeks passed. We soon found out that there were strings attached to the gifts. My husband did not bend to the wishes of this man, and the gifts stopped. We saw clearly that there were some in the church who wanted to cause us to “transgress”.
In every area of life, we must strive to make decisions based on God’s Word alone. It can be tempting to please man; to care about the thoughts and opinions of man, but that is the wrong path. Let’s remember the words of Bob Jones, Sr., which I learned as a chorus when I was just a teenager:
Do right, till the stars fall, do right, till the last call.
Do right, when there’s no one else to stand by you.
Do right, when you’re all alone; do right, though it’s never known.
Do right, since you love the Lord. Do right! Do right!