Lord, forgive me when I show favoritism. Help me to see it and repent. Strengthen me today to live out my faith with my deeds—all to Your glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read James 2
COMMENTARY ON THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
Go back and read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5–7. Notice how James is often a commentary on those teachings!
James 2:1–13 Who do you gravitate toward in your church? Is it someone who can do something for you, or someone you can serve? Partiality is normal in the world, but a grievous sin in the church.
God has “chosen the poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom” (2:5; see also Matt. 5:3). Showing partiality to the rich is not loving your neighbor as yourself; it’s loving yourself as a means to get something from your neighbor. There should be no distinction in the church. God has shown mercy to us, and we should treat one another with mercy.
GOSPEL AND KINGDOM
What is Gospel Work and What is Kingdom Work? (5-min video)
Video posted under Standard YouTube License.
James 2:4–26 Faith without works is dead. True faith is shown by works. If we say we believe but do not live in accordance with those beliefs, our faith is useless, for even the demons know God is one and Jesus is His Son (Matt. 8:29 and Mk. 1:24).
Abraham and Rahab are two Old Testament examples of works emanating from faith. Abraham believed God would be faithful and acted in accord with his beliefs; this is made clear in Genesis 15:6 and Genesis 22. Similarly, Rahab believed the Lord of Israel is “God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath,” so she hid the spies (Josh. 2:11).
Elsewhere, the apostle Paul wrote, “We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ” (Gal. 2:16, emphasis added). Does the Bible now contradict itself? Not at all. James was not arguing that faith plus works leads to salvation. James was explaining that saving faith, the kind that Paul wrote about, would lead to works. The works are the evidence of a faith that justifies.
18 But 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.19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?
- What fruit of faith can you point to in your life? Do your beliefs about God match up with the way you live?
- When you share the gospel with others, how do you explain saving faith? Are you offering “fire insurance” from hell, or are you offering a new way of life?
- How does knowing faith without works is dead affect the way you disciple others?
- Examine your words against your actions. What are some things you need to change so that your words and actions match?