James Part 2
Message Summary: Sometimes in faith, we have things almost right, but not fully correct.
In James 2, he is speaking to people who are getting it half right. Our faith must be connected to our works, but this doesn’t always mean what we think, or what we may have been led to believe. This verse has been weaponized at times to get people to give more or do more for the Church. James connects works specifically to treating other people well, not showing favoritism, and loving our neighbors. The concept of loving others well isn’t new at this point in the Bible. It has shown up repeatedly from the 10 commandments all the way to the teachings of Jesus. James is showing that an abundant life ties our faith to the principle of loving others well.
If we want to measure our faith, we must look at how we treat other people; specifically, those who are different than us. Our thoughts will dictate our actions, and the Message version of James 1 says, “Don’t let public opinion dictate how you treat others.”
We can implement this principle of treating people well in a few ways:
Reorder the way we see people.
This starts with our thoughts. In 2:13, we see that judgment without mercy is the wrong way to view people. We must see people’s humanity first. We need to view people based on their divine value, or the Image of God.
We can practice “the most generous interpretation,” where when someone does something that we don’t like (i.e. cutting us off in traffic), we think of the various circumstances that could have led to this action (i.e. going to the hospital to spend final moments with a family member.)
We have to rub shoulders with others.
Even more specifically, we need to rub shoulders with those who are different from us. Philip stepped out of his comfort zone to spend time with an Egyptian Eunuch. These two were different in culture, religion and appearance. Yet, because Philip looked past differences and viewed this person with mercy, the Eunuch was baptized.
Our time and attention are a barrier to spending time with others. We must slow down and create margin in our lives to be able to see people and rub shoulders with them. You might have great intentions, but without the time to act on them, they won’t be enough.
We need to cultivate curiosity.
We must ask questions and get to know people. These questions shouldn’t be leading to get the person into a conversation we desire, but simply honest questions that help us know them better.
God has designed us for life, and without connecting our faith to loving others, we will struggle to live abundantly.
- Who do you feel are the hardest people to love well in your life?
- How can you reorder the way you see them this week?
- What are some ways that you can clear space and time to be available to others in your life?
- Can you think of a time when someone saw you in a way that brought mercy and love into your life?