Awhile ago I wrote a post called “Count it All Joy: A Look at James 1.” You can find that here. Today, I’d like to continue that little Bible study. Please open your Bible to James 2 and read along as I talk about each part.
Here is a summer-upper of this paragraph on partiality:
Don’t show any partiality. If you see two people, and one looks better dressed, it’s not right to treat the better looking one better. God uses all people in His kingdom, not just the rich, the good-looking, or the “perfect.” I mean, don’t the rich treat you as less than them? Don’t they talk about God like He is less than them?
So, the main idea in this paragraph is “don’t show partiality.” It’s very likely that the people James were writing to (the “twelve tribes in the dispersion”) had a problem with treating people differently based on the person’s social status. I don’t think we have as much of an issue with that now. At least, not one that is initially obvious. There are problems of racism in the world, and often that gets into the church. And often, we do pay more attention to people who look like they are from a higher class. So maybe we do have a problem with this. Please comment and share what you think about the current issue with partiality in the church.
Every Sin a Condemnation
This paragraph continues to talk about partiality, then it says something interesting. “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.” What does that mean? I think it means that every sin is crossing the line. Every sin is against God’s holiness. Every sin is against God Himself. But, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that every sin is equal. All sins have different consequences, as we humans are familiar with, and we naturally know that stealing a piece of gum isn’t as bad as killing your neighbor. Are they both sins? Yes. Will they both condemn you to Hell if you do not have the covering of Jesus? Yes. But do they both have the same consequences? No. For one, you receive a scolding, for the other, you may end up dead. Another passage that talks about this is 1 Corinthians 6:18. That concept is something I’ve thought about a lot. On another note, it says “judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.” That kind of echos Jesus’ teachings on forgiving others, and not expecting God to forgive us if we won’t forgive others. It also says “mercy triumphs over judgment.” What are your thoughts on that?
What’s the use of faith if it doesn’t make you do anything different?
James kind of gets fired up here (at least, I think of it that way). He asks a quick, rhetorical question, and then continues with his thought line. He shows that just saying “I’m a Christian,” without growing, evangelizing, and serving, is pretty fruitless. And, while his point is not to say that salvation is by works, he points out that our faith is a lot more believable if it comes with works. This is a huge doctrine of the Christian faith. What do you think about it?
Faith Apart From Works is Dead
And, continuing with his theme of faith and works, he just comes right out and says “faith without works is dead.” He offers the stories of two amazing people in history, Abraham and Rahab, and points out that their faith was show by their works. To be honest, I don’t really understand the first part of this paragraph. I just… yeah. I don’t get it. I have a faint idea of what it means, but the way he says it just doesn’t make any sense to me. Take a look:
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. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? (ESV)
Please comment and share what you think it means. What will probably happen is one of you will say something and it will just make perfect sense and I’ll be like “why was I so stupid?!” So please do.
If you feel like I said something that wasn’t scriptural, please email me or comment. I would really appreciate it.
Thanks for reading, I hope you benefited from it. Try to meditate on these truths throughout the day.