Thanks for joining me as we continue our journey through the Book of James. If you are serious about being transformed by the renewing of your mind, the Book of James takes us to a higher level of self-assessment and recognition of what is really required to become a true son of God.
Today, I want to take us through chapter 2 of James, which I have divided into two topics – (1) The Sin of Partiality and (2) Practical Faith Equals Perfected Faith.
(1) The Sin of Partiality (James 2:1-13)
We have been told in Romans 12:2 that we must not be conformed to this world. Father God knows us better than we know ourselves so there is a reason why He chose to have Paul write these words to the believers in Rome and also to us. Before we surrendered our lives to Jesus Christ, we were steeped in the world’s belief system. Having become a believer, we are still living in enemy territory and many times we continue to be influenced more by the world’s way of thinking than by a biblical worldview that should set us apart as followers of Christ. There are some sins that we don’t even recognize to be sins because they are so much a part of the world’s culture. We accept them as norms and don’t realize that God sees them as sin. A case in point is partiality. As believers, there is a tendency to rank sins on a continuum from bad to worst. For example, we see adultery and murder as worse than rumour mongering, stealing and jealousy. This is not how God sees sin though. Sin is sin no matter what it is. Once it does not line up with God’s will it is sin and we need to repent and ask forgiveness to keep our account with God clean. He calls us to be holy as He is holy. Anything less is unacceptable and will leave Him with no option but to judge us. God cannot go back on His own word because then He would make Himself a liar and God cannot lie.
According to James 2:1-13, God wants us to treat everyone the same. Not to treat someone better because of having a seemingly higher socio-economic standing in life. God is not interested in the outward appearance – what we wear, what kind of car we drive, what area or type of house we live in. He wants to deliver us from this discriminatory mind-set. James was speaking to fellow believers just like us. Many times church leaders are guilty of this sin. As a prophetic minister, I have shared the word of the Lord with my church and there is no response from church leadership. Then, an overseas minister comes to town and brings the same word and it suddenly becomes “THE WORD OF GOD!!”. God understands our human nature. That is why the scripture says a prophet has no honour in his own country (Lk. 4:24, John 4:44). Jesus Himself suffered this type of discrimination. Some people were more interested in where He came from than the message He was preaching. Nathanael spoke what many were thinking, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” This is a warning to us to be tapped into the Spirit of God so we hear with spiritual ears and not allow our eyes or our familiarity with the one bringing the word to rob us of what God is saying and requiring. God chooses whom He will to deliver His message. We are told that He chooses to use the foolish things of this world to confound the wise (1 Cor. 1:27).
Partiality is not pleasing to God. It is a warning to each of us to guard our hearts and minds against partiality. To see people through His eyes, no matter how they look outwardly. We are commanded to love our neighbour as ourselves. So, what we want and how we want to be treated should be our standard for how we treat other people no matter who they are or how they appear. In case you missed it the first time, I will repeat here, “showing partiality is counted by God as sin” (Jas. 2:9). Determining to show no partiality displays God’s character of mercy. Guard your hearts and your minds lest you fall prey and it be counted against you. We are known by our fruit (Mt. 7:20).
(2) Practical Faith Equals Perfected Faith (James 2:14-26)
God is a very practical God. As Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, one of the things He said we should ask God for is to “give us this day our daily bread”. How much more practical can you get? Many times though, God chooses not to give to each of us directly but rather indirectly through His servants. God tests us to see if when He gives to us we will recognize that all that we have is not ours, it all belongs to Him. He expects us to ask Him what He requires us to do with that which He has given to us. God is calling us to be practical in our faith. Do not just wish people well but do something to ensure they are well. It’s easy to say, “I’ll pray for you” but it is more needful to also give of your time, money, and skills to help others than just to mouth platitudes. Sometimes we don’t even pray.
In essence, James is telling us in verses 14 to 26 that we show our faith by what we say and what we do. More so, by what we do. If we really believe God has said to step out and do something, then we will do it even if we don’t fully understand how it’s going to work out or where the resources are coming from. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). Based on what James has written here, faith is not simply believing, it is acting on what we say we believe. That is when we please God. But many times, doubt and unbelief hold us back in our Christian walk. We do not really believe who God says He is or that He is God of His Word. That is why we are unable to do “the greater works” and the “mighty exploits” that God said would be accomplished by those who know Him. If we really knew Him, we would act in obedience without hesitation.
We are justified by acting in accordance with faith, not simply by believing. Works brings faith alive even as the Spirit makes our bodies live. Today, think back on those things you have shrunk back from doing, repent and determine in your heart that come what may you are stepping out in faith. Has God said it and will He not do it (Num. 23:19)? Your faith is made perfect by making it practical faith (Jas. 2:22).