James, Lesson 3
Heavenly Father, thank You for ministering to us by of Your Word of eternal life. We pray for receptive hearts, seeing eyes, listening ears, clear minds, and obedient spirits to receive Your Word. May the thoughts and meditations of our hearts be acceptable to You, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
James 2:1-26, the sin of favoritism, the sin of faith without work
VV 1-2, 1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
We should not to show favoritism. We should not give special attention to a rich man who wears fine clothing and expensive jewelry while despising a poor man who dressed shabbily to church.
VV 5-7, 5 Listen, my beloved brethren, has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?
Poor people were generally richer in faith, trust and love God more than rich people. Rich people tend to trust in their wealth rather than in God. Generally, it is the rich people who oppress and dragged poor people to the courts, blaspheming the God who called them.
VV 8-13, 8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
We should love our neighbor as ourselves according to the 10 commandments, Leviticus 19:17. Showing favoritism is a sin because favoritism violates the commandment to love our neighbor. The law must be obeyed in its entirety. To break one law of the commandments is to break every laws of the commandments.
Leviticus 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord”.
VV 14-17, 14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Justification is by grace through faith in Christ but doing good work is the response of God’s love to save us. If someone has faith but refused to do good works to assist the needy and the marginalized their faith is dead.
VV 18-20, 18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe, and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?
Good work is the demonstration of genuine faith. Faith without works is dead. We are not the only people who believe in God. Even the demons believe in God and trembled on hearing His name.
VV 21-23, 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works, faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.
Abraham’s faith was accompanied by work. Abraham’s justification was through faith and his faith was genuine because he was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac.
VV 24- 26, 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. 25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
James did not advocate salvation by work righteousness. Good work is our response to justification by grace through faith in Christ. Genuine and living faith results in good work. James alluded to Joshua 2 regarding the faith of Rahab, the prostitute who protected the two spies.
Joshua 2:15-16, Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall; she dwelt on the wall. And she said to them, “Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you. Hide there three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward, you may go your way.”
There is no place for favoritism, discrimination, and racism in the kingdom of God. Justification is by grace through faith in Christ but we respond to justification by doing good works out of gratitude to the saving grace of God. Faith without work is dead. Refusing to do good works to assist the needy and the marginalized is a sin.
Heavenly Father, thank You for justification by faith. Help us to love our neighbor. Help us not to practice favoritism, discrimination, and racism. Help us demonstrate genuine faith by doing good works to help the poor and the marginalized, in Jesus’ name, Amen.