-There are two main thoughts that reverberate through this second chapter of James, and they are actually intricately related. First, the issue of partiality is addressed. The members of Christ’s body, the church, is not to play favorites and appease those with money and fine clothes and jewelry. The poor have been chosen by God to be rich in faith and heirs to the Kingdom, while the rich oppress, drag believers into court, and blaspheme the honorable name by which you are called (James 2:1-7). The royal law of love towards our neighbor must be kept, and showing partiality negates that imperative command of the Lord. Partiality is a sin, and whoever breaks one part of the Law is guilty of every aspect of it. Mercy is better to show “for judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:8-13).”
*Application* Human nature has not changed at all. We still tend to desire to play favorites that will benefit us to our own advantage. It is straight out sin the Bible says to show favoritism, especially in the area of the rich. Remember, when you lend to the poor, you lend to God (Proverbs 19:17). The greater the need, the more dependency on the Creator and faith is required. Therefore, the Lord is near the brokenhearted and downcast (Psalm 34:18, Isaiah 57:15; 66:2). Judgment, naturally speaking, tends to land in the hands of the wealthy and dominant. Our judgment needs to be out of love, and mercy should always triumph (trump) over judgment. Don’t be a transgressor in the area of partiality. It has dangerous consequences.
-Very much related to this concept of partiality is the idea that faith without works is dead and useless. If we are to actually abide by this impartial law of liberty in love, action is required. We show our faith by our works. James makes the point that both Abraham and Rahab completed their faith by the physical demonstration of obedience to the Lord to give us examples of how that plays out in real life. “As the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead (James 2:14-26).” *Application* We can think and say all we want about faith and believing, but until we put it into practice in our lives we are simply fooling ourselves and giving a false sense of security when it comes to matters of pleasing the Lord. What you actually believe you will do. James’ point is on target when he claims that even the demons believe and shudder, but they do not act righteously, therefore nullifying their goodness naturally and exposing their lies against the truth. Jesus said it like this: “A good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits (Matthew 7:17-20).” What kind of fruit are you bearing in this life? It would behoove us to consider how we are acting, because this will reveal where we really are in our faith walk. In other words, our works reveal what our true faith is.
Verses to memorize: James 2:5, 10, 13, 17