James 2: Playing Favorites

For what reasons do Christians sometimes see others as superior or inferior to themselves?

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James 2:1–4 My friends, your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, will not allow you to regard some people as better than others. Suppose a richly dressed man with a Rolex watch enters your assembly, followed by a shabbily dressed man off the streets. You show the rich man to the best seat near you, but you direct the street person to an obscure place in the back. Not only are you trying to draw favor upon yourselves, but you are incorrectly judging by appearance whether a person is good or bad.
King James
James 2:1–4 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

Why should we be concerned for needy people? What should out attitude be toward the rich?

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Matthew 19:24 “It is harder for a man of great wealth to enter the Kingdom than for a camel to get through a needle’s eye.”
Matthew 25:40 “The King will say, ‘I assure you, whenever you helped one of my needy people, you did it to me.'”
James 2:5–6 Listen, beloved friends, didn’t God appoint the destitute in the world to be rich in faith, inheriting the Kingdom that was promised to those who love him? Yet people disregard the poor and cater to the rich who take advantage of them and will file suit over trumped-up charges.
King James
Matthew 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Matthew 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
James 2:5–6 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?

Who are the people James refers to, those who disregard the poor and cater to the rich?

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James 2:6 Yet people disregard the poor and cater to the rich who take advantage of them and will file suit over trumped-up charges.
King James
James 2:6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?

How do people slander the name of Christ?

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James 2:7 They slander the good name of Jesus Christ whom you follow.
King James
James 2:7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?

Why should we be motivated to love others?

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Mark 12:30–31You must love God with your whole heart, with all your being and all your strength. This is the most important commandment. But the second commandment is equally important. Love your neighbor as yourself. Of all the commandments, none are greater than these.”
Luke 6:27 “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you.”
John 13:35 “If you love one another, people will know you are my disciples.”
James 2:8–9 You do well to keep the supreme command to love your neighbor as yourself. If you favor some people above others, you have sinned by violating the principle that God has established.
1 John 4:19 Because God first loved us, we make a habit of loving others.
King James
Mark 12:30–31 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.
Luke 6:27 But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you,
John 13:35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
James 2:8–9 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us.

Who should Christians regard as being their “neighbors”?

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Luke 10:33–36 “A Samaritan traveler saw the man suffering and was moved with compassion. He went to him, used wine and oil to cleanse and soothe his wounds, and stopped the bleeding with bandages. He lifted him onto his own donkey and took him to the inn, where he cared for him. The next morning, he left two days’ wages with the innkeeper, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If you spend more, I will reimburse your expenses when I return.’ Which of the three travelers do you think was a neighbor to the man who was robbed and beaten?”
James 2:8–9 You do well to keep the supreme command to love your neighbor as yourself. If you favor some people above others, you have sinned by violating the principle that God has established.
King James
Luke 10:33–36 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
James 2:8–9 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

How could Jesus cover our sins when he never sinned?

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Galatians 3:13 On the cross, Christ saved us from the curse of the Law by being a curse for us, for Scripture says, Anyone hanged on a tree is cursed.
Hebrews 4:15 Our High Priest is easily touched with the feeling of our infirmities, because he was tested in every area just as we are, yet without sin.
James 2:10–11 If someone were to keep the entire Law except for one small point is no less a violator than one who is guilty of all. God who said, “Don’t commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” Committing adultery but not murder does not make a person any less a transgressor.
King James
Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
James 2:10–11 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

As it affects our relationship with God, how can one sin be of less consequence than another?

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Matthew 12:31 “Understand this: all kinds of sin and evil speaking may be forgiven, but speaking evil of the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven.”
Hebrews 10:26 If people continue to sin after learning the truth, no further sacrifice is left for them,
James 2:10–11 If someone were to keep the entire Law except for one small point is no less a violator than one who is guilty of all. God who said, “Don’t commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” Committing adultery but not murder does not make a person any less a transgressor.
1 John 5:17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is a sin that does not lead to death.
King James
Matthew 12:31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
James 2:10–11 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
1 John 5:17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

Why is there freedom in doing what God wants instead of what we want?

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James 2:12 Whatever you say or do, experience the liberty that comes from always doing what God speaks to your hearts.
King James
James 2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

What does it mean to be merciful? Why is that important?

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Mark 11:26 “If you do not forgive, your heavenly Father will not forgive your sins.”
James 2:13 No mercy will be shown to those who have no mercy. But if you show mercy to others, you can rejoice on Judgment Day when he is merciful with you.
King James
Mark 11:26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

If words can’t save us, what will?

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Matthew 10:32 “If anyone publicly acknowledges me before men, I will publicly acknowledge him before my Father in Heaven.”
Romans 10:19 Surely, Israel did know. God said through the mouth of Moses, I will make this nation jealous of people you thought were inferior. You’ll be upset when you see a pagan nation doing better than you.
Philippians 3:9 A relationship with Christ is not something I achieve by doing what the Law says. No, it comes through trusting God and following the guidance of his Spirit in doing what is right.
James 2:14–17 My friends, what good is a declaration of faith if you don’t have the actions that show you really believe? Can words alone save you? Suppose a brother or sister has no coat and nothing to eat. If people say, “You have my blessing. Go in peace and be warm and satisfied,” but they do nothing to help, what did they gain? So you see, a declaration of faith alone is dead without the actions that give it life.
King James
Matthew 10:32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.”
Romans 10:19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
James 2:14–17 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

When does a “profession of faith” have no value?

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Matthew 21:28–31 “Tell me what you think. A man told the older of two sons to go work in his vineyard. The son said, ‘No. I have other things to do.’ Later, he changed his mind and went. The man made the same request of the younger son, who said, ‘Yes, sir. I will.’ But he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“Obviously, the older son.”
“I guarantee,” Jesus said, “that tax collectors and prostitutes will reach the Kingdom of God ahead of you.
James 2:18–20 If someone said, “Faith and works exist independently, so show me your faith apart from works,” I would say, “That’s impossible. Only my actions can reveal what I truly believe.” You say you believe there is one God, as if that declaration is sufficient. But it’s not. The devils believe and tremble, and their actions haven’t changed. Don’t be so empty-minded that you miss the obvious truth: actions speak louder than words because words alone are deceptive.
King James
Matthew 21:28–31 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
James 2:18–20 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

Of what value are actions without faith?

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Matthew 7:22–23 “On Judgment Day, many will say, ‘Lord, didn’t we prophesy, cast out evil spirits, and do many wonderful deeds in your name?’ Then I will tell them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you disobedient lawbreakers.'”
Romans 9:32 For lack of faith, they stumbled and fell. They failed to see the value of total commitment to what God wanted. Seeing themselves as basically good, they thought their works in obeying a few laws was sufficient to gain God’s approval.
James 2:21–23 Wasn’t our ancestor Abraham justified through his obedience when he went to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar? The reality of his confession was demonstrated in his actions. The works verified his faith, making it complete. Now we see how Scripture was fulfilled. Abraham believed God, and it became his brand for righteousness because of what he did in life. He was called the Friend of God because of his actions, not by just saying he was God’s friend.
King James
Matthew 7:22–23 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Romans 9:32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
James 2:21–23 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

What is the difference between being righteous in God’s eyes and being righteous in our own eyes?

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Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right but ends in death.
1 Timothy 4:1–2 The Holy Spirit plainly says that in these last days, people will forsake their faith, loving the deception and doctrines of evil spirits. With dead consciences, they embrace and promote lies as if they were the truth.
James 2:24 You must now admit the obvious truth: being righteous in God’s eyes depends on our actions and not just what we say we believe.
King James
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
1 Timothy 4:1–2 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

Which is more important, faith or works? Why?

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James 2:25–26 Consider also Rahab the harlot, who was justified by her actions when she received the messengers and kept them safe by sending them out another way. Just as the body without the spirit is dead, faith without works is dead.
King James
James 2:25–26 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.