-�The elderly woman stood looking at her house and shaking her head. The tornado that had ripped through her town had been a shock, for sure. And she had been surprised by the 14 volunteers who had quickly shown up to put a new roof on her home and repair her front porch and windows. The speed with which they had completed the job was nothing short of amazing! But what shocked her most was the color of the group.

How sad that it often takes a disaster for people to look beyond skin color and simply see another person in need. In God�s eyes we are all equal. The civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s focused attention on discrimination against African Americans in the U.S., and resulted in the abolishment of a number of unfair laws and practices. Martin Luther King Jr. was the movement�s most influential leader and used his eloquent speaking ability to articulate blacks� grievances. Sadly, King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. In 1983, Congress made the third Monday in January a federal holiday to honor King.

One of the most memorable highlights of King�s career was a speech delivered on August 28, 1963, to a gathering in Washington, D.C., King said, �I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: �We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.� �

Prejudice appears to be a universal weakness in human nature, with every race and every group of people. We all struggle with a tendency to judge others by external characteristics rather than their intrinsic value as people created by God. If not skin color, we may discriminate on the basis of economic or educational status, physical attractiveness, clothing, manners, or accent.

In his letter to early believers, James described a hypothetical situation to show the importance of not favoring one person over another.�(James 2:1-13)�His example included two men visiting a worship service, one dressed in fine clothes and the other shabbily dressed. The rich man was given the best seat while the poor man was told to stand or sit on the floor. �Aren't you discriminating against people and using a corrupt standard to make judgments?� James challenged.�(verse 4)�He labeled such preferential treatment as how God views it: �If you favor one person over another, you're sinning.��(verse 9)

Anyone who claims to be free of prejudice is kidding themselves. We all react to people according to preconceived notions and our first impressions. It�s human nature to identify with some people more than others based on any number of things. But that doesn�t give us an excuse to treat some people better than others.

Such behavior is incompatible with faith in Jesus Christ. God wants us to do our best to treat everyone with dignity, respect, and compassion. Rather than act on the basis of our impressions, we can remember that each person we meet is someone whom God created and Jesus died for. Since God went to such lengths to offer his favor to everyone, how can we favor one person over another?

In�Galatians 3:28�we are given a beautiful picture of relationships among believers as God intended:

�There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.�

One in Christ�that�s a dream we should all have.

Ask yourself: Do I do my best not to let preconceived notions or first impressions affect how I treat people?

(Devotion from CBN)