(Originally published January 5, 2021)
“My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.” James 2:1
James is pointing out that we should not show partiality between the rich man and the poor man. We should welcome whomever into our churches. I have often heard the story of the pastor who dressed up like a beggar and sat outside the doors of his church to see if anyone in his congregation would stop and talk to him. When no one did, and it was time for his sermon, he walked up the aisle of the church and took his place in the pulpit much to the surprise of his parishioners. I wonder how I would respond. I was in Jackson the other day and I saw some people holding signs on the street corner asking for money. I will admit I did not give them money, I’m not sure that would be a good idea either, BUT did I harbor in my heart against them? Was I accepting of them? Would I have stopped if they had been better dressed? Or how would I have treated them if they had come into my church?
“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.” James 1:8-10
We can’t be nice to the rich man and not nice to the poor man. We should be accepting of all people in the same way, especially when they walk in the church doors.
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” James 2:14
Now wait a minute Paul told us we couldn’t work our way into the kingdom of God and then here James is telling us that we have to have works? Not exactly, in my studying I found a saying.
“faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone”
True faith will always produce works. As you fall in love with Jesus you can’t help but want to work for Him. You can’t work your way to Jesus, first it will wear you out, but also He wants your heart not just what you can do for Him. But if you cultivate and develop that relationship with Him, He will lead you to the works that He has for you, and it will not be burdensome. It will be fulfilling to you.
“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!” James 2:18-19
It’s really not enough to just believe in Him, you have to love Him, to want to follow Him, to have faith in Him. I know people who can play the game and can quote scripture but it’s like James said in chapter 1, you have to become a doer of the word. You have to let it change you. Whether you are 9 or 99, there is always something there to change, and there is always and will always be, until we get to heaven, something new to learn and let Him do in your heart. I never want to stop learning from Him. I never want to stop changing, I never want to stop working for Him. Sure, the lessons I am learning now are different than the lessons I learned 20 years ago. There are things I learned and things I may have struggled with then, that I don’t struggle with anymore. But there are still lessons to learn and work to be done. If you still have breath in your body, there is something for you to do. As long as there is breath in my body there will always be something to do, to learn, to work for Him. To love Him is to work for Him!