There was a study done recently to see how one’s salary affects how they are seen by others. In this study, participants listened to two coworkers collaborate on solving a problem together. The two coworkers read a script that was carefully designed so that neither showed more innovation or creativity than the other. After the participants listened to the interaction, they were told that one earned significantly more than the other one did. After they learned this, they were asked which coworker contributed the most to the discussion. In almost every case the one who they were told earned more was given more credit than their coworker for solving the problem, and this was true no matter which of the two coworkers were said to have earned the most.
There is something deep inside the human psyche that tells us that people get what they deserve−that those who earn the most are paid so because of what they contribute and know.
There is also a side of us that knows that this can’t always be true, that there are those who cheat or are born into the right family who get ahead for reasons that are not as pure. Yet, when it comes to strangers, we often give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that their wage is a correct measure of how much they contribute.
James, in his epistle, warns us about this thinking. In chapter 2 he says, “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in,and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”
Is that easier said than done?
Well, that is the point why James wrote what he did. He wrote it because our intuition is often wrong, and if we are to correct our thinking then we will need to pre-think, before we assume and in turn act wrongly.
It is a sad reality that most of us think our intuition runs clearer than most. It’s the same way that 75% of people think they are better looking than the average person.
Too often we give ourselves credit for being better than most in nearly every area. In reality, this thinking is the same as everyone else’s, which negates even the possibility that we are actually better at judging strangers than others are.
Think that through for a moment…and next time you are impressed by someone’s position or wealth, think again why you are acting the way you are.
It may say more about you than it does them.