Favoritism and Faith
James 2 has two primary emphases. The first is an exhortation not to show favoritism in relationships with other people. James uses the example of how some were treating the rich better than the poor. James points out that it is often the rich who had persecuted the Christians and yet they were being treated more favorably. This is a pretty common practice. Social media is full of videos which show how differently people treat someone dressed nicely compared to someone dressed like a homeless person. The nicely dressed person often seems to receive more compassion and help, even though he/she doesn’t appear to really need it. Why do we do this? I suppose there are many factors but a couple of them are that we think that if we treat a rich person nicely, perhaps he/she can return the favor to us. Also, many feel afraid or vulnerable around someone who is homeless compared to a rich person. But neither of these are valid excuses. James points out that we are to love our neighbor and that “Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” In today’s world the rich/poor dichotomy extends to race as well. The doctrine of creation leaves no room for inherent differences of value in race. If you find yourself showing favoritism I hope you will read this chapter and repent of that.
The second thing James talks about is the fact that “faith without works” is dead. If I say that I have faith in Jesus then that will naturally show itself in how I live. It is a dangerous and deceptive place to be to talk about faith but not have a life that evidences that faith by works. We are not saved or forgiven by our actions but if we are truly transformed by Jesus, we WILL live differently and we WILL love differently than the world. Faith in Jesus is not measured by church attendance or giving money. Faith is measured by how we live.