James 2

Two men walk into a church. It may sound like the start of a bad joke, but the scene James paints is anything but funny. His story is punctuated not with a punch line but with a gut punch.

[4] have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? [5] Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?

James 2:4-5

The impulse to show partiality to the wealthier, more powerful person has no place among the people of the God who has given His kingdom to the poor in spirit. We are not heirs of the kingdom because we are rich but because our God is generous, sending His Son so that the poor in spirit might be rich in faith. James’s concern is that the hearts and actions of God’s people don’t reflect the heart and the actions of their God. It is only by grace through faith in Jesus that we are saved from our sin. James does not contradict this fundamental truth, but he does push back against a deficient understanding of faith–one that persists today–where spiritualized sayings seem a sufficient substitute for Spirit-filled generosity. James’s issue is with a faith that nods in agreement with the truths of God on Sundays but lives according to the world’s wisdom the rest of the week. Authentic faith will be accompanied by a transformed life. So, James’s words call us to question– if our actions are better explained by the judgments of the world than the mercy and grace of God, then who are we really trusting?

Lord, help us to see the world and the people around us through the lens of your grace toward us. Help our hearts believe that you are the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, so that through our faith, our lives may reflect your justice and generosity in a world filled with partiality and greed. Amen.

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