I suppose that there is no one (human being) who can take on such a subject as this and write with complete experience, because being a member of the human race seems to predispose one to some prejudice. I have known people who appeared to be non-prejudiced, yet get on a family issue (their family) and prejudice appeared. With preachers sometimes, it is apparent when a pal of theirs is involved in an issue or controversy. The preacher may in fact preach in an unbiased, non-prejudicial way with regard to members of the congregation, but talk about the error of his buddy and prejudice appears. The term prejudge means to “judge or condemn before proper inquiry” (Desk Reference-The New American Webster Dictionary, p. 359). According to Webster prejudice is “an opinion, often unfavorable, formed without adequate reasons; bias.” Jesus condemned prejudice by saying “judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). If the Lord condemned it, then His church should work extra hard to stay free of it.
To stay free of prejudice one must of necessity guard against respect of persons. That is to say that one’s position in the community cannot be regarded as to the standard of right and wrong. By example let us consider a prominent businessman who is a member of the Lord’s church and chooses to drink alcoholic beverages. He may be the best contributor in the congregation and considered an all-American guy in the community, but he is guilty of public sin which does great harm to the Lord’s church. This individual, no matter how popular, does not set the standard by which to live. God has set the standard, and our job is to obey (Gal. 5:21; Luke 21:34, Prov. 23:31). So, what is a preacher of the Gospel to do? “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season. . .” (II Tim. 4:2). James by inspiration warned, “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord with respect of persons,” (James 2:1). Therefore, the Gospel of Christ must be preached and as the common saying goes “let the chips fall where they may.” Of course our prayer would be that such a person would repent of sin, but if they will not, then so be it. Too often the above situation is overlooked and preachers refuse to preach on the sin, elders will not act on what they know to be the case, and the Lord’s church suffers by the actions of one. God’s judgment will not be with respect of persons (Col. 3:25).
Prejudice cannot be allowed in one’s family. I’m of the opinion that this is part of the problem in Eli’s house (I Sam. 2-4). Eli did not look upon the wickedness of his sons as such a bad thing. Why such a conclusion? He did nothing about them, and let them serve as priests, corrupting anyone they could. As a result they died and so did Eli. Why? Because God is not prejudiced. His judgment is not determined by one’s flesh and blood family. Will a preacher preach against marriage divorce, and remarriage when his own son or daughter is guilty of sin in this area? He should (Matt. 19:9), but many times a preacher will not do so due to a family situation÷prejudice.
One that will hear bits and pieces of a matter and make a snap judgement could find himself guilty of prejudice. When a problem arises in the church, do you only listen to the report of your friends or would you hear the whole story (both sides)? A Christian will hear both sides, because the outcome is much too serious for an individual to play around. Salvation is at stake and sometimes unity is on the line. The Proverb says, “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and a shame unto him” (Prov. 18:13).
Sometimes prejudice seems right, but that certainly does not make it right. The Proverb writer observed, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 16:25). Jeremiah recognized the way of man with this comment, “O Lord I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23).
The way for one to stay free of prejudice is for an individual to let God Almighty direct his steps. Even then temptations will come, but with a heart full of God’s Word and a life given to prayer, victory will be ours!
-David Hill, TBC President