Thursday, July 26, 2007

James, Chapter 2

Welcome back. I hope everyone had a good read with the first chapter of James yesterday. I cannot promise that I will be updating this every day, but I will do my best to come here at least three times a week. I also know that I didn't exactly quote tons of scripture yesterday, but part of studying the Bible is actually reading it so I encourage you to get into the Word yourself and see what it has to say. I am far from perfect and still only one man, so what you see in the Word can be something totally different from what I see. I am certainly far from an authority on it! I also welcome any insights in the comments sections from the chapters that I am focusing on, and I'll leave the comments open so other readers can draw from them.

The first part of our second chapter of James warns us about the dangers of showing favoritism. This carries over not only toward people, but toward what laws and commandments we choose to break. Think about your own life for a moment. How many times have you drawn a conclusion on someone just based on their appearance? How many times have you showed favoritism to someone based on their wealth? Sadly, we live in a society that tends to pamper people's feelings if they are wealthy, and because of this they can get away with everything. Seeing one CNN report on how much of a tragedy Paris Hilton's brief stay in jail will tell you that.

"If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, 'Here is a good seat for you,' but say to the poor man, 'You stand there' or 'Sit on the floor at my feet,' have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?" – James 2:3-4 NIV

I am not advocating drinking and driving, but it sadly happens every day in America, yet this one person, for the sole reason she has money we are supposed to pity her and laud her on how brave she is for staying in jail. What? She is lauded, while others are condemned, all because of her status. I use this only as an example, and not to condemn her. The Bible also teaches forgiveness, and if she has truly mended her ways then that is a very good thing.

This section of James also tells us that no sin is greater than another.

"For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it." – James 2:10 NIV

I know I am far from perfect, but that is beauty of what Christ gives us. A common misconception of Christians is that we are perfect once we decide to follow Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth! Our own humanity will always get in the way. Sure, once we follow Christ we are to aspire to be perfect, but anyone who has seen me at a Purdue football game will see I am far from it. Especially if the opponent is God's supposed team in Notre Dame! Christ met us in the middle of that imperfection and makes us perfect where we need to be perfect, in our hearts. As long as we have Him in our hearts it is enough to overcome our own weaknesses. He sees past our failings and uses them as a chance for us to learn if He is in our heart.

This brings us to the second section of the chapter dealing with faith and deeds. This part also connects us with yesterday's lesson in that we must act in faith. I again reference my own life here, but only out of convenience. My aunt has had Multiple Sclerosis for many years, and the disease has made her very bitter. While many people have fought the disease and used rehab to still lead productive lives, my aunt basically has curled up and let the disease control her to the point that she has been in a nursing home years and cannot even feed herself. A few years ago my father got her started on a new treatment that was showing some promise. Her condition was improving, and had she gone through the rehabilitation process to build up muscles that had not been used in years, she could have possibly made a dramatic recovery. She did not do this, however, as she expected the treatment to cure her and wouldn't listen to those who told her that if she hadn't used her legs in more than a decade, then she would have to rebuild the strength in them. As a result, her recovery plateaued, and she eventually regressed because it wasn't automatically given to her. She wouldn't do the work she needed to do.

The same is true in our Christian lives, as once we have faith it is only the beginning and not the total answer. Yes the basic requirement to get into heaven is only that we believe and entrust our lives to Christ because we are all sinners seeking his forgiveness. Once we make that choice though, our faith truly begins as we then see the value of the other disciplines of faith such as prayer, worship, studying the Word, and silence. I will get into those disciplines more in depth another day, but they are the deeds that strengthen our faith.

"In the same way, faith by itself, if it not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.' Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder." – James 2:17-19 NIV

You see, even Satan believes in God, and he's read the Bible to. It is what we do with it that matters. One final verse to share ends the chapter perfectly:

"As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead." – James 2:26 NIV


  1. What are some deeds that you to accompany your faith?
  2. How is favoritism a problem when we show it in our lives?
  3. As a Christian, how are you not perfect?

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