Personal Journey

James Bible Study: Chapter 2

I’m so glad that you decided to come back and study James Chapter 2 with me today! Go ahead and get out your bible, pen, and highlighter so that we can dive right in.

A Journey Through James

[1] My brothers and sisters, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. [2] For if someone comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor person dressed in filthy clothes also comes in, [3] if you look with favor on the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here in a good place,” and yet you say to the poor person, “Stand over there,” or “sit here on the floor by my footstool,” [4] haven’t you made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

I think this story is trying to tell us that we shouldn’t value people because of their possessions. We’ve all known since we were little that we should not judge people based on their appearance. I know you’ve heard the saying not to judge a book by its cover, and God says the same thing, just in a different way. Don’t welcome one person into your life simply because they look like they have it all together. Instead, welcome in those who look like they need your help and friendship. Character is more important than appearance, and I think that we all struggle with that when it comes to helping others. We aren’t the ultimate judge, therefore we shouldn’t act like we are.

I can relate to this one pretty well because I go to school in a city. There are homeless people all around my university, and I have to remind myself that while I need to remain safe I also need to see these people as humans too. Their character could be one-hundred times that of a student in the desk next to me, but most of us don’t think like that simply because we can’t get past their appearance. Don’t you ever wonder what their story is? God wants us to welcome those who are hurting into our lives.

[5] Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Didn’t God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? [6] Yet you have dishonored the poor. Don’t the rich oppress you and drag you into court? [7] Don’t they blaspheme the good name that was invoked over you?

God didn’t choose you because of what you have. He chose you because He loves you. He doesn’t care what you have, He cares that you love Him. This verse doesn’t have to be about worldly possessions either, though. You can also think of “poor” as having unfavorable circumstances and experiences. God wants those who have nothing or those who feel incredibly lonely/sad/angry/anxious to seek Him out, because He has promised all of us unconditional love.

[8] Indeed, if you fulfill the royal law prescribed in the Scripture, Love your neighbor as yourself, you are doing well. [9] If, however, you show favoritism, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. [10] For whoever keeps the entire law, and yet stumbles at one point, is guilty of breaking it all. [11] For he who said, Do not commit adultery, also said, Do not murder. So if you do not commit adultery, but you murder, you are a lawbreaker.

There’s a lot going on in these verses. One thing that really stuck out to me and that I want to focus on is that you should love your neighbor as yourself. Once again, this is something that we’ve all understood since we were little. Treat others how you want to be treated. All of God’s laws revolved around two laws: love God and love your neighbor. If you split the 10 Commandments into categories, they can all be separated into these two laws. Not only is it a law that God wants us all to abide by, it’s just a good idea. Let’s be honest- treat others how you want to be treated. Some people say that is too hard to do sometimes, and I’m not denying that, but it’s also a lot easier than you might think. I challenge you to step back, be slow to speak (see yesterday’s post), and to love others before your let your own emotions stop you from doing so.

[12] Speak and act as those who are to be judged by the law of freedom. [13] For judgment is without mercy to the one who has not shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

This goes back to the treat others how you want to be treated. Even if you cannot show mercy or love or forgiveness to another, God will still show you these things — that is what Mercy is! How great is it that God will love you no matter what you’ve done? He will show you mercy even when you’ve wronged Him and so many others. There is one more important thing to touch on here, though. It’s super awesome that God will forgive us and give us mercy even when we’ve wronged Him and even when we refuse to give other’s mercy, forgiveness, and love… BUT that doesn’t give us the right to just go around murdering people and stealing from stores because we know that we still have an ‘in’ in heaven (because God forgives). We want to aim to be better than that so that we can have a good, personal relationship with Him.

[14] What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can such faith save him? [15] If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food [16] and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay warm, and be well fed,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? [17] In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.

This part seems really obvious to me. If you tell others to be warm and well fed, but don’t give them the resources to do so, then what good are you? We all say we want to end homeless and hunger, but how many of us actually take actions to make a change in the world? You want your actions to reflect the words that you speak.

[18] But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith by my works. [19] You believe that God is one. Good! Even the demons believe — and they shudder. [20] Senseless person! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless? [21] Wasn’t Abraham out father justified by works in offering Isaac his son on the altar? [22] You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was made complete, [23] and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend. [24] You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. [25] In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works in receiving the messengers and sending them out by a different route? [26] For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

I really, really like this passage. The words “even the demons believe” is so, so powerful and revealing. You can look at several parables in the Gospel where Jesus casts out demons who call out knowing He is the Son of God. These ‘demons’ know and obey God, which essentially means that good (God) trumps over evil. I put ‘demons’ because these are things that all of us have encountered. We have all fought with such things like anxiety, depression, rage, etc. God has the ability to take all of that out of you and give you the goodness of His healing and love.

I hope you come back soon for Chapter 3!

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