James Chapter 2

March 28, 2014

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on James. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

You can listen to the study by clicking here

James 2:1-26 (NIV)
1 My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3 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,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5 Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong? 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! 14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 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. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder. 20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

James 2:1-7

Put away the labels. In Christ we are family. We have to get rid of all of the cultural distinctions that we tend to use to determine the value of people. Our value is in Christ! We are to treat all people like they matter, because they do to the God who created them.

James 2:8-13

The royal law. Love your neighbor as yourself. We are all lawbreakers because to break one law is to break them all. Like sticking a pin anywhere on a balloon will cause the balloon to break. Breaking any of the Mosaic laws means you have broken them all. Since we are all sinners, we all need the mercy and grace of God.

Remember in the royal law, Jesus is not commanding you to love yourself, He is assuming you already love yourself and He wants that love to be the basis for loving your neighbor.

The idea in this verse is that we are all seeking our own happiness. That is the idea of self-love, it is our desire to experience a happy life. Self-love is different than self esteem. Self esteem has to do with how you feel about yourself.

Even if you had no self-esteem you still deep down want to be happy. This is even true of people who are turning to all sorts of things that are not good for them in search of being happy. People don’t turn to activities that are not good for them because they don’t love themselves, it is that their idea of what will make them happy is wrong.

It is our nature to do what we think will make us happiest in the moment. This is self-love. Self-love is something God created. In and of itself it is a good thing. To hunger for food is not evil. To want to be warm when it is cold or cool when it is hot is not evil. To want to be liked by others is not evil. This was a trait that existed in humanity before the fall and it is not evil in itself.

Where it can become evil is how it impacts us when we think about this command that Jesus is giving us. Self-love can become self focus and even self obsession.

What Jesus is commanding is that all the things we desire in our lives to be happy, we are to desire for our neighbors as well. And not just in theory, in reality. We are to be as concerned about our neighbor’s lives as we are about our own. Our self-love should be the measure of our self-giving.

Jesus isn’t saying get all that you want to be happy and then help out with whatever energy or resource you have left over. The word ‘as’ is a great big word. It means as, love your neighbor as yourself, with the same energy, passion commitment, focus, etc.

When you take that in it should seem a little overwhelming and really not possible. If we were to really love others that way, if we were as concerned about their needs, wants, happiness as our own, how could we really ever achieve our own happiness? Are we to forgo our own happiness in order to help our neighbors achieve it? It would be completely overwhelming if Jesus hadn’t given us the first part of this command first.

Mark 12:30 (NIV)
30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

See, the deal is this. The first thing you have to do is realize that real happiness can only be found by being all in with God, heart mind, soul and strength.

You take all the desires of your self-love, and you focus it on God and He satisfies you in a way that you never could in your own strength. Your self-love is only truly fulfilled as you focus your life all in with God. He is the source of real full and abundant, now and forever life.

And then, with my longings fully met and satisfied in Him, my desire is for my neighbor to also experience this real full and abundant now and forever life.

James 2:14-26

James is not suggesting that it is your “works that save you”. He is saying that once you have been saved, have found life in God all in, that your life and the way you interact with others should be transformed. You should begin to love others as yourself. The needs of others, particularly for life in Christ, should become a priority to you.

You can no longer just look away or walk by the like the priest and the Levite in the parable of the Good Samaritan, you must do what you can.

We cannot earn our salvation by serving and obeying God. But such actions show that our commitment to God is real. Deeds of loving service are not a substitute for, but rather a verification of, our faith in Christ.

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