James, the half-brother of Jesus, did not share in Jesus’ ministry. It was not until after resurrection that he appeared to James and convinced him that indeed he was the Christ. James went on to become a leader and influenced many in the church at Jerusalem and this led to his martyrdom.
Today, I am led for your reading and meditation to give you the entire second chapter of James.
“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into our 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?
“Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: 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? But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?
“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. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ also said ‘You shall not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
“Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well-fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
“But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’”
My answer is, show me how anyone can have faith without actions. I will show you my faith by my actions. Do you believe that there is only one God? Good! The demons also believe – and tremble with fear.
Do you want to be shown that faith without actions is useless? How was your ancestor Abraham put right with God?
It was through his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar. His faith and his actions worked together. His faith was made perfect through his actions. The scripture came true that said, Abraham believed God, and because of his faith, God accepted him as righteous.
And, so, Abraham was called God’s friend. You see then, that it is by our actions that we are put right with God and not by our faith alone. It was the same with the prostitute Rahab. She was put right with God through her actions by welcoming the Israelite spies and helping them to escape by a different road.
So then, as the body without the spirit is dead, also faith without actions is dead. The word of God for the people of God!