“Real Authentic Faith"

[Week 3]

James 2:1-13

Verse of the Week

“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.” [James 2:12-13 NIV]

 

The rich and the poor...(v.1-4)

In Mark 14:7, Jesus says: “The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want.” In chapter 1, James addresses the poor and the rich (vs9-11), giving both instructions on how to live and how to follow Jesus. 

 

To be considered “poor” during ancient times was not exactly what we would think of when we think of someone who is ”poor” today. Today, it is possible for someone to be ”poor” and have a job (or jobs), a vehicle, food to eat and a place to live. However, all of those things would qualify someone as being ”rich” in ancient society. When James is talking about the “poor”, he is referring to a person who would be “utterly destitute” in today’s society.

 

The ”poor” were considered cursed or abandoned by God. This was a hard pattern of thought that followers of Jesus were commanded to break. James accuses the believers of being (vs4) “…judges with evil thoughts… ”.


What is the antidote? Consider how James begins the passage, (vs1) “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus must not show favoritism.” (emphasis on glorious). Firstly, remember that we are all family. We are all children of God (John 1:12). Secondly, compared to Jesus’ glory, anyone who walks (James 1:2) “…into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes…” looks equally as impoverished as the “…poor man in filthy old clothes…” who also comes in. The point that James is trying to make is that we are all equal at the foot of the cross.

Discussion:

  • What are some ways that we become “…judges with evil thoughts…”? 

  • How has this affected our church?

  • How has this affected your connect group?

  • How has this affected your own personal walk with Jesus?

 

The value of the poor... (v.5-7)

Jesus loves the poor! Jesus identifies with the poor because He was one of them! “Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.’”(Matthew 8:20). The poor and the unlikely are the ones who God has chosen to show incredible favor towards.

 

So why is it so hard to show Christ’s love to the poor? It’s simple! They have nothing to offer us in return. However, if we love someone who is rich, there might be lots of benefits. The problem with this idea of “love” is that it is not the love of Jesus. Jesus’ love is self-sacrificing, and continues to be poured out, even when it is not given in return. This is not how the world loves. The world is consumed with self and wants more and more and more. This is why the rich of the day were accused by James of exploiting others, dragging people into court, and blaspheming the name of Jesus (vs6-7). 

 

If our lives are going to exemplify Jesus, then we will seek to love in ways that are not intended to benefit us. We will love simply because Jesus loves us.

 

Discussion:

A life that is committed to following Jesus is consumed with pleasing the Father (see John 8:28). If we are consumed with seeking the approval of others, in what ways are we putting them in the place Jesus should hold in our lives?

What the law has to say about it... (v.8-13)

At the end of the day, as followers of Jesus, our command is to love God and love people (Matt.27:32-39). 

 

All sin equally separates us from God. Though there might be different levels of visibility or consequence between one sin and another, this is not how we need to be judging our actions. The same God who said ‘don’t murder’ and ‘don’t commit adultery’, also said, ‘don’t show partiality’. The question for us is not, ‘How important is this law?’, but rather, ‘How glorious is the law GIVER?’.

 

We are implored to live our lives in a way that shows we understand that we will be judged for our actions. At the end of the day, you get what you give. This is why mercy triumphs over judgment.

Discussion:

  • Have you ever been guilty of committing “small sins”? 

  • In light of this passage, how do you view these actions now?

  • How can we incorporate more mercy into our lives?

Question Bank
 

  1. How has your week been spiritually?
     

  2. What is God teaching you through this passage?
     

  3. Who is someone that you may have been guilty of judging? How can I begin to live mercifully and loving towards that person?
     

  4. What’s your next step in your relationship with God?

Call to Action

  • Share your next step with 1 person inside or outside of group and invite them to hold you accountable.
     

  • Talk about Group with at least 1 person.