Studying the books of the Bible is a crucial tenet of Christianity and the formation of a deep, lasting relationship with God. Some books can be easier, and more pleasant, to study than others. However, all are the inspired words of God, Himself and are all equally worthy of our time and meditation. Today, we continue into part three of our four part series on the book of James in order to highlight and discuss the key themes of James's writings and what they can teach us about our faith. In this post we will be discussing the next two themes of James's writings: friendship and salvation.
James 2:8-9: Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.
James is pretty straightforward here. Obey the law, love your neighbors as yourself. Do not favor one person over another. Treat everyone the same no matter status, treat them ALL with KINDNESS. Cultural, economic, or religious differences cannot dictate treatment. God does NOT discriminate and you cannot either!
James 2:2-7: For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives? Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him? But you dishonor the poor! Isn’t it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court? Aren’t they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear?
James goes into more detail here from our last passage we looked at (that's why I chose to place it second). Treatment is not dependent on class or anything someone has that might impress you. All are God’s children and will be judged accordingly.
James 2:9: But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.
I wanted to go back to this one by itself because I think it is important highlight by itself. Favoritism is as bad as murder in God’s eyes. It is SINFUL to favor some over others. You could just as easily be the poor person that is being rejected. There is no guarantee that favoritism would get you equal status; but non-favoritism is the way to right standing with God. So... DO NOT BREAK THE LAW OF LOVE!
Faith without works, what is the point? What James is saying is NOT that you have to have good works to get to heaven. We all know salvation comes from faith and grace alone. What “faith without works is dead” means is that good works through faith brings heaven to earth. We do good works because salvation and grace make you WANT to be better! We want our lives, as followers of Christ, to exhibit fruit and works that glorify God.
James: 2:17: So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
This is so straight forward, I probably don't have to say much: faith must also produce good deeds!
James 2:19-20: You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
Anyone can say they have faith but not everyone proves it by their actions. That is part of the Christian journey! Faith and salvation aren’t a journey, our transformation into Godly Christians is!
James 2:14-26: What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.
Faith without deeds cannot help anyone. We need to show non-believers God on earth! How do we expect to bring others to Christ if they can’t see Him? Demons know Jesus too but they don’t allow Him to work through them. When we give our lives to Christ, we are giving up our rights to choose “self” over everyone else. James uses the examples of Abraham and Rahab who cannot be two more different people (another example of why we should not to show favoritism). God’s grace is a credit we don’t deserve; we should be grateful to Him for that!
Make sure to stop by next time as we conclude our four part series with our final two themes of speech and humility, patience, and prayer!
Are you looking for a good reading plan and just don't know where to start? Join me in reading all about the Bible's teachings on Thanksgiving throughout the whole month of November! Check out our November reading plan below and don't forget to stop by our Instagram Live (@whitneygibbsministries) each evening to discuss the day's readings!