If you’ve just managed to stumble upon this post then please know I’m so glad you’re here. Studying the Book of James was an “easy” way for me to dive into reading more of the Bible and studying the Word for the first time in my adult life. You know.. in a way where I really try to learn something – and, taking it a step further, applying what I learn to my every day life.
Big task, I know. Luckily, I like a challenge.
I decided on James because:
a) it seemed short enough (in order to make a habit stick it should be simple!), and
b) someone on Instagram was talking about how she enjoyed studying James and hey.. influencers are around to influence us, right? Consider me influenced.
(Side note: I’ve now typed “influence” so many times it no longer looks like a legitimate word).
In James Chapter 1 we learned that there is no avoiding trials and tribulations; we will go through hard times as humans and especially as Christians. But what helps us get through these difficult times is learning to view obstacles as opportunities, and using those opportunities, however tough they may be, to show thanks to God. It’s in that old adage that we can’t have a rainbow without the rain.
Book of James Bible Study: Favoritism, Faith and Works
The Sin of Favoritism
James 2 starts out by saying,
“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old 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 is warning us not to show favoritism, but if you read through his statement again, you’ll see that he’s really saying not to show discrimination. If we make anyone, regardless of their skin color, social status, education level, cultural background, political affiliation, NSYNC vs. Backstreet Boys super fan – ANYONE less welcome, then we are not showing love to our neighbor.
We are demonstrating the sin of favoritism and the type of prejudice that he is warning us about.
James goes on to remind us, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers.” – James 2:8-9
Galatians 3:27-29 reminds us “…for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” It doesn’t say that we are all one who are men. All who are mothers. All one who are republicans. All one who are rich. But we are ALL ONE. Every single one of us.
This can be a tough topic for a lot of people. And it can be an even harder task to learn, or in some cases, unlearn. Social media doesn’t help. Sorry, not sorry. But platforms have made it easy for keyboard warriors to summon the courage to tell someone else exactly what they think of that person, and/or that person’s beliefs. And suddenly we are living in a world that doesn’t find value in our differences. Instead, we fight over them.
The results has been a Mean Girl mentality where we frequently tell people, “you can’t sit with us.” Because of the very things that James says we shouldn’t be focusing on.
Jesus didn’t sit with only his disciples. He sat with everyone. The rich, the poor. The young, the old. The sinners, and the saints. He wasn’t “too good” for anyone’s table. Except that He really was, but He didn’t walk into a situation with that attitude. He walked into the situation with an open heart and gave everyone a chance.
When we fail to show mercy to other people, and instead we judge them – we are setting ourselves up for God to judge us. To take away the mercy He reserves for us. When we aren’t loving our neighbor, we aren’t putting God’s word into our works. Which leads us to..
Faith and Deeds
So this is the big clincher. Faith without works is dead. Yup. Harsh. Some of us need that reality check, and I will be the first to admit that I do as well.
It takes more than just believing in God. As we are told in verses 18-19: “..Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. GOOD! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.”
My 9 year old is on a kick right now (that I’m trying to break) of saying, “No dip, Sherlock!” I can’t help but think that’s what James is telling us right now. “Oh, you believe there is one God? Well no dip, Sherlock! Even the demons know that. But what are you DOING to fulfill God’s purpose through your actions?”
Basically he’s telling us that we need to learn God’s word, and then go do the things we learn. Apply those lessons to our every day lives. Don’t just offer up “prayers and thoughts” (don’t NOT offer them up – definitely do keep offering them), but what else can you do along with those prayers to help someone else?
It’s looking for opportunities to help one another, and in doing so, we are letting God’s love shine through us.
So here’s your challenge for today: what’s one way you can put your faith into works today?