In this second chapter of the book of James, Jesus’s brother is teaching the Jewish believers scattered among the Gentiles. These Jews are teaching “the Way”, which was the teaching that Jesus was the Messiah and following Him. The book of James outlines general characteristics of a christian and exposes false teachings that were spreading throughout that region during that time. Of course, with all of God-breathed scripture, it stands to teach us in the 21st century. If you haven’t yet, take some time to read through James 1 here.
The Sin of Partiality
1My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3and if you pay attention to the one who wears 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,” 4have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?
As always, highlight the verses in your Bible the color you feel they fit into. I use the Good Morning Girls coloring chart. There’s no grade, no absolute wrong or right. If you’re wondering what’s with all the highlighting, go check this post out. Then come back and it’ll make more sense. 😉
- Verse 1= instruction, faith, God
- Verse 2= teaching
- Verse 3= teaching
- Verse 4= teaching
- Verse 5= command, God
- Verse 6= sin, teaching
Note that I’m using the term poor and wealthy pretty loosely here. “Poor” doesn’t just mean the homeless. “Wealthy” doesn’t just mean millionaires.
We’d rather be known as friend of the wealthy rather than the poor, right? Well yeah! Ever heard “You become who you hang out with”? The monetarily poor though are usually the ones more aware of their need, their powerlessness, and the necessity of dependance on God. Some wealthy (remember, it’s about the heart) have a sense of pride because of their wealth (after all, they earned it) and think that it entitles them to more power, more pleasures. Is God not in control of all?! He could blow it all away with the wind if He willed.
Let’s help those who need help and show the love of God to all, no matter their social status or bank account.
8If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty all of it. 11For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
- Verse 8= obedience
- Verse 9= sin
- Verse 10= wisdom/teaching
- Verse 11= God, sin
- Verse 12= instruction/command
- Verse 13= teaching, mercy
Oh my, verse 10!! Whoever fails in one point is guilty. Everybody! We are all sinners who need saving. The pretentious jerk, the addict, the judgmental mom, the convicted killer. Sin is sin. We all need Jesus.
“A sin is any thought or action that falls short of God’s will. God is perfect, and anything we do that falls short of His perfection is sin.” Billy Graham
As Christians, we are saved by God’s free gift of grace through faith, not by keeping the law. But as Christians we are also required to obey Christ. James gives us instruction to act with mercy. So whatever you do and whatever you say, let it be done with love and mercy. In Matthew 18:32-35, Jesus says to have mercy on your fellow servant as the king has had mercy on you. Read this slow and soak it in – mercy. triumphs. over. judgment. Thank you God!!!!
Faith Without Works
14What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18But someone will say,”You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe – and shudder! 20Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the alter? 22You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works, 23and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” – and he was called a friend of God. 24You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
- Verses 14 -26= faith. It’s all about faith. 😉
James is not contradicting Paul’s teaching in Romans 3:28 that “one is justified by faith apart from works of the law”. Paul is talking about salvation. Salvation comes by faith in Christ. Your works do not earn your salvation.
James is talking about authentication. You don’t call a duck a duck unless it has feathers, webbed feet, and quacks. Your life will change once you take the leap of faith and give God your heart. Your faith is active. You do things for the glory of God because it’s all about God.
Rahab’s heart faith was visible from her outside actions. She was authenticated by her actions. She believed in her heart. That belief was proven authentic by her actions. She couldn’t have said she believed and then ratted out God’s people.
One of the best privileges in the world is God giving me the opportunity to show my relationship with Him through my actions.
What can we take away from this second chapter of the book of James? It’s really very simple. See people through God’s eyes rather than human eyes that look at social status. And love. Love with action. I pray you have a great week and see God move in many ways!
Until next time!
P.S. I made these scripture cards to use for everyday life situations (like, you know, getting cut off in traffic). Sign up and get them in your email to use during your day to day life too!
- Wisdom From Above; An Excerpt from James 3
- Bible Teaching From James 1; Building Endurance, Wisdom, and Following the Word
- T.H.I.N.K. Think About Your Words; Wisdom on Taming the Tongue From James 3
- James 5; A Warning to the Rich and Questions to Ask Yourself
- James 4; A Warning Against Worldliness & Boasting from the brother of Jesus. A Lesson in Examining Your Heart.