But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
Our lessons over the last few weeks have been all about renewing our minds and recommitting ourselves to the callings of God. In various passages of scripture, these are also referred to as gifts and talents. These callings/gifts/talents are given to everyone as God sees fit to bring Him Glory. He fitly frames together the body of Christ intricately and with whosoever will. Gifts and callings are without repentance - we are given what He chooses, and He (God) is not going to be ok with neglecting their use. God uses James to teach individual accountability for the light that we shine to build the family of God.
The author of the Book of James is a half-brother or, at least, a close relative of Jesus. The apostle James was the son of Zebedee, and his brother was the apostle John. Both men were important leaders in the early church, and both were martyred for the cause of Christ.
Many say that the book of James is similar to the wisdom books of the Old Testament; his writings are compared with those of Proverbs. His focus is on the application of the word in all aspects of the Christian life. His teaching is practical and profound and sometimes hard to practice because he leaves no room for excuses.
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?
Human tendency is to look at the status of another person as we decide how to interact with them. We gladly welcome those who we think will be a benefit to our congregation. We are less enthusiastic about those who we will need to serve with patience. That’s because we are constantly comparing the righteousness of human beings to other human beings. In the Church of God, however, we are to only compare the righteousness of any human being to the righteousness of God, in which case we realize that we are all beggars at the foot of the cross. As we have received grace, we must extend grace. As we have been loved, we need to love. Peter declared that God’s perfect love is different.
Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. (Acts 10: 34-35).
We are accountable to follow the same principle, to earnestly strive to have a mind and heart like Christ. Everyone is welcome to become part of the family of God.
For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: (Deuteronomy 19:17).
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? Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
James rebukes the church, saying that when it comes to discrimination, the church struggles and suffers in various degrees with partiality and prejudice. We have a vision problem, we are restricted and deceived by our own narrow-mindedness and understanding of what God will accomplish. He can use anyone, anywhere, at any time to accomplish His will. When we judge on outward appearances, we are not judging as God does, from the heart. Do we see people for how they can benefit us instead of seeing how we, for God, can benefit them?
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. 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.
What is the royal law?
Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets. (Matthew 22:36-10).
The royal law is for everyone, rich or poor, Jew or gentile, male or female. The law of Moses was useful in that it made it very clear that without the grace of God, no one would be able to enter into heaven. The only ability we have, as limited human beings, is to judge others by their works, in which case, we have reverted back to the system of the law. But if we assign others value under the law, we are also placing ourselves under the same judgment. The law is holistic, to keep it in one point is useless unless it is kept in its entirety. We sin when we divide people into categories and judge them by our own standards, we sin because we are not able to keep that law ourselves. To receive the grace of God is to have a renewed mind and heart full of grace toward everyone else. There is a new covenant now, salvation through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.
"To reveive the grace of God is to have a renewed mind and heart full of grace towards everyone else. There is a new covenant now, salavation through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ."
So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
We will all stand in judgment. If we are without Christ, we will be judged by our works and condemned. If we are in Christ, if we are believers, we’ll be judged with mercy, and we'll give an account of what we have done for Him. The judgment based on works, the white throne judgment, is a place with no mercy. The judgment of the redeemed, while an honest accounting, is where the blood of Christ prevails, and we’ll for the first time truly comprehend, “His mercy endureth forever.”
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, (Luke 4:18).
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8: 31-32).
If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (John 8:36).
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:17) .
Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (Galatians 5:1).
We will be judged by the grace of God or by our works. We will be held accountable for our love for one another and our obedience to Christ or for keeping the law. It is the difference between being a religious person and being a redeemed Child of God. The message is that we are bought with a price, the precious blood of Jesus, and knowing our situation, we should view others in the same light and not focus on judging or categorizing them but on loving them in the power of the Holy Spirit.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Are we impartial? Do we show love to our neighbors, family, friends, and enemies? Do we love God and use all of our talents and abilities for Him? Do we prefer others ahead of ourselves? Our compassion, our ability to forgive, and our ability to extend mercy are the testimony we have for Christ.
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (Matthew 7:2).
Thank you for studying with us! God bless!