Professional Courtesy (James 2:2-4)

“Dr. Smith! You’ll be fine! See you next month to see how you’re healing.”

“Thanks Doc!”

I saw my father scribble the initials “PC” next to his name. Pointing at it, I asked my father, “What does that mean, Dad? I thought his name was Jake Smith?”

“The PC? Oh, it means professional courtesy. Dr. Smith is a physician. For all physicians and dentists, I usually don’t charge them or if it is a really big procedure, I give them a discount.”

In a bygone era, many physicians, dentists and health care workers would extend professional courtesy to their colleagues. This would take the form of various degrees of compensation, usually in the form of reduced fees. In general, if one professional extended the professional courtesy, it was reciprocated by the other. However this was over fifty years ago. Laws now restrict such activities which are viewed as inducement and even discriminatory. However, many still extend this courtesy, but certainly not with the same level of activity when my father practiced dentistry.

The ugly side of professional courtesy is when a physician or other professional uses their title and position to gain services from another colleague. This may be as subtle as calling to schedule an appointment for themself, a family member, or a friend or as blatant as insisting that a greater discount be given to them. Sadly, all of these situations still occur quite frequently, just not reported. The principles of professional courtesy extend far beyond our occupations. Any relationship that leverages one’s position as entitlement and extracting services could be lumped into this category. 

Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 

James 2:2-4 (NIV)

Have you not discriminated among yourselves? This statement is penetrating. The same word, discriminated, can be translated as showing favoritism, partiality, or making a distinction. God disapproves of all of these attitudes. Extending professional courtesy may seem innocent and even courteous but, like any of our actions, may be abused or misinterpreted. What is the answer? Once again, God supplies us the answer a few verses later. 

If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. James 2:8-9 (NIV)

Courtesy must not be dependent upon one’s professional title or socio-economic status. Courtesy is showing God’s love by loving others as ourselves. When we do this, we show the same grace and mercy that God offers to us through faith and belief in His Son, Jesus Christ.


Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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