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Editor's Note

Happy New Year! The book of James is a perfect book to start off 2024 on the right foot.

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Read James 2

Favoritism Forbidden

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?

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. 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, “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.

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.

Faith and Deeds

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 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? 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 my deeds.19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father 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 considered righteous by what they do 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.

Go Deeper

The book of James is all about faith that works. He is saying “if you are going to talk the talk of Christianity, you better walk the walk.” This means that the actions of Christians should match the faith they claim with their words. James begins this chapter talking about the sin of partiality, or favoritism. He says, “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism” (v. 1). Favoritism can be defined as having unfair love or preferential treatment towards some at the expense of others. It is treating someone based on external factors. 

James illustrates this in a church meeting with those favoring the rich over the poor (v. 3-4). God is impartial, meaning He shows no favoritism. He sees all people the same and all are held to the same standard. We also know that God does not look at the outward appearance, He looks at the heart. For many of us, there are various reasons why we would treat people differently. This could be their wealth, race, political party, job title, gender, intelligence, etc. When we receive the goodness of God in our heart, we reflect the goodness of God in our lives. This looks like treating people according to their value and worth in God’s eyes, regardless of what they physically look like or what their worldly status is. 

James continues in this passage asking the question: How do you know if you have real faith? Look at the fruit. James says, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (v. 17). Our works are the fruit of our faith. Faith without action is a useless faith. Martin Luther once said, “We are saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone.” We do not have to work for our salvation, we work from our salvation.

People say what they think, but they do what they truly believe. In Matthew 7, Jesus tells us “By their fruit you will recognize them” (v. 20). This idea is also demonstrated in Matthew 25. Jesus is describing future events to His disciples telling them that He will separate the sheep from the goats. Jesus says about His true disciples, the sheep, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” Jesus continues saying, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (v. 40).

What He is communicating here is that if we ignore those in need, we are essentially ignoring Christ. When we serve those in need, we are serving Christ. The gospel changes the way we live and the way that we radically love others. No, we are not saved by our good deeds, but our good deeds prove we have a saving faith. When Jesus is in our hearts, acts of mercy will flow from us. 


  1. When is a time where you have shown favoritism towards some people or someone over others? 
  2. What are the works flowing out of your faith currently? 
  3. What is something that you can do today to put your faith into action?

A Quote

“Mercy to the full range of human needs is such an essential mark of being a Christian that it can be used as a test of true faith. Mercy is not optional or an addition to being a Christian. Rather, a life poured out in deeds of mercy is the inevitable sign of true faith.” -Tim Keller

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12 thoughts on “James 2”

    1. Gina,
      This is really incredible. I have been struggling with negative views of those who believe different than me with politics. I am learning that those thoughts are from the devil as he wants us to be divisive. Thank you for sharing this.

  1. “…The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

    As noted by the author of the commentary in referencing this verse – it says much about WHY we do good works.

    In my life before Christ, where I was acting like a Christian – you would have thought I was a Christian by my works. But my heart…that is deceptive above all things; who can understand it, (Jeremiah 17:9) was all about “doing” the good works for my notoriety, fame & glory. I was working to please man and earn my salvation.

    Now, by the grace of God, it is in my brokenness and the knowledge of the truth that I’ve got nothing to give or bring to God except my need for a savior – that liberates me to do good works out of the bounty of His mercy and grace to me.

    Wow…amazing God that loved me so that He allowed the actions of my life (Galatians 6:7-8) to break me and get me to the end of myself so as to receive His mercy and love that I did not deserve.


  2. Favoritism or partiality is to have unfair bias in favor of one thing or person compared with another. This is easy to do because we all seem to likes vs dislikes. BUT GOD vs 8 “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. Don’t judge, just had to repent of that Sunday. It just shows up and rears it’s ugly head. My knower knows that God loves everyone, but my flesh responds differently. Trying to learn and see scripture through God’s eyes and how it shows His character is good. Humility, obedience towards God in action because of His grace to me. Then I can work on having more true faith that transforms every aspect of who I am and how I respond. I have to change to do what my knower knows.

    God thank You for giving me the knowledge of knowing and recognizing that I am judging or showing partiality. God thank You that You forgive me minutely as I realize and repent. God thank You that I can see others through Your love goggles and love them, here now, as You love me. God help me to put my faith into action in all the minutes of this day in Jesus name amen.

  3. Jesus cautions in Matthew 12:34, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” In the same token the manner in which we serve others reveals our hearts. Jesus modeled compassion and saw beyond the outward appearance and straight into the heart. He moved steadily to the least, lonely, broken and forgotten—the castaways and misfits. I love how James used the unforgettable narratives of Abraham and Rahab, to showcase that true faith will drive us into action. Christ followers should be the first responders to show up with mercy, for nothing makes the gospel more attractive to a hurting world.

    1. “Christ followers should be the first responders to show up with mercy” — I LOVE this!

      Lord, make me a “first responder” to step up, show up and offer mercy wherever it is needed!

  4. Diane Frances Rogers

    True faith results in deeds, but the deeds do not justify us. Faith brings us salvation: active obedience demonstrates that our faith is genuine. Confession: Love your neighbor as yourselves has been a genuine struggle for me in the past, but by the grace of God and Re-Gen, my heart is softening. Don’t misunderstand, where there was a need, I’d run to be a first responder, always have, by God’s design. However, my flesh was judging. Thank you, Father, that you have shown me Your heart and mercy. May I model it every day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  5. I have loved reading everyone’s comments…I just realized I must be judging others that I feel have not shown mercy or service to others that ‘suffer’ or are unwell etc…their gifts and time is directed towards evangelism alone…I have struggled with this for awhile…that no pastoral style visits or ministry is tangibly offered. I am not looking at the heart, just the actions of another? If anyone can help with my thoughts or judgement towards the leader in our church…please help direct my thoughts along the God path. Tku!

    1. Renee’, it is my understanding that the model we follow for the size of the membership of HCBC is leaning into Life Groups for pastoral care in meeting the needs of its members.

      1. Thank you Ella…
        I appreciate your reply and sharing the model of a larger congregation. (I attend a small local Church in Australia)
        Also as I continue to read James and take things to God it’s helping me sift through my thoughts on things. God Bless xx

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