We will continue through the book of James chapter 2. . .
In James 2, it starts talking about how wrong favoritism is. This is something I'm sure we've all done at some point of our lives. I know that I have.
My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? (James 2:1-4)
In these verses, it is using the example of showing special attention to the rich man, and not really caring about the poor man, thus showing favoritism. But I think if you flip the story, and show special attention to the poor man and not care about the rich man, it is the same thing. . .both of them being wrong. We need to show love to both of them, which can be really hard.
Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom He promised those who love Him? (vs. 5)
Later on in the chapter, it talks about the way you should speak and act:
Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! (vs. 12-13)
So that means we need to show mercy to everyone, for mercy triumphs over judgment!
I think this next part is really interesting, and has caused a lot of confusion to some (including me).
What good is it, my brothers if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?
In the same way, faith by itself if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (vs. 14-17)
I have always been stumped with this part of the chapter, because of what I have been taught. You know that it's not by works that you are saved, but through faith in Jesus Christ. We are not justified by works, but through faith. To me, works and deeds, were the same. . .and maybe they are. I know that other religions believe that you need to do deeds and works as well, in order to 'earn' your salvation. So I always thought that 'works' and 'deeds' were in essence, bad. But when I read this on Tuesday, it started making sense to me. The example in verses 15-16 clears up the confusion:
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you all; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?
You can't just have faith that something is going to happen. . .sometimes you have to take action. Although that could start another argument, with the fact that you're kind of saying you have to 'help God make something happen', and not having faith that He can do it by Himself. But I think there is a balance, and it depends on the situation, to determine what you can do. Because sometimes, you really just can't do anything, and that is a time that God uses, to have you rely on Him and Him alone.
As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (vs. 26)
He is wonderful and greatly to be praised