James 2 - Favoritism and Faith and Works.

James 2:1-7 - The way of the world, and frankly too often the church, is to look at those ho are poor as failures. They made bad choices, or are not that bright, or else they wouldn't be in that spot. James calls these things 'evil thoughts' in verse 4. If we are honest with each other, there are people that we are tempted to do the same with. They are harder to love because they are needy or maybe just annoying. Do you avoid them in the fellowship (or the workplace, school, wherever)? I know that I am tempted to. I see them on the caller ID or at church or wherever and I hope they won't want to talk to me or I'm tempted to let the call go to voice mail. Oh, I know what I ought to do, so I take the call or have the conversation. But is that what Jesus or James would have us do, gut it out for the sake of doing the right thing?

Instead, I should pray to see them as Jesus does and have his heart to give to them. This goes back to that John Piper list of 5 ways to handle it when you don't want to do what you ought. Instead fo gutting it out, we ought to pray for God's heart.

I was tempted to leave most of this out, because, frankly, it's embarrassing to admit. I have a hunch that many others have these same thoughts and temptations, however, and as disciples of Jesus, we need to be called higher. Jesus spent most of his time here with those who were outcast by society, why should we do any different? The only way we can do as He did, however, is to pray for the transforming work of the spirit in our hearts.

James 2:12-13 - James calls us to live under the law, not the old law but the "law of liberty". In other words, as Paul taught, we are free to live God's way as opposed to being slaves to disobedience. So we should live as one with the freedom, finally, to do the right thing.

What does being judges by the law of liberty mean? It means being judged on our mercy, according to James 2:13. So, having been set free and shown mercy, we must do the same. If we do not, we will not be shown the mercy we claim to embrace.

James 2:14-26 - Some like to point to this passage as saying that good works are required for salvation, even saying that James said that Abraham and Rahab were "justified" by their works. But if you read it properly, James is not saying that at all. he merely points out that the two go hand in hand. Faith without the "good deeds" to back it up is a lie, it simply isn't faith. And note, he never talks about "Good deeds" apart from faith. The two are inseparable. If you claim one without the other, you deceive yourself.

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I don't have any answers here, but I have some questions. They've been troubling me since I got connected with an honest-to-goodness bum.

"Those who are poor" in America are that way because they choose not to be under anyone's control. They won't have anyone telling them they have to be at work at such and such a time, or pay the rent on X day. The hard-working family that's hard on their luck have always gotten a pretty generous shake in America, and they still do.

The American poor may be that way because of mental illness, addiction, or sheer cantankerousness, but they share an absolute undependability. They will gladly take anything with zero strings attached, but the moment they must commit to giving something back, they're gone. That evaluation is not up for debate with me. Each person is different and each person's limits are different, but anyone who will gladly pay what they're able for a thing of value will soon enough no longer be poor in America.

So, my question is how you think James 2 might apply to those people. They came to Jesus and He healed them all, but Jesus had the Spirit without measure and even He got grumpy when people followed Him for nothing but food.

Are these evil thoughts in my heart?

Evil thoughts? I don't think so. Evil would be to desire to just toss them aside.

I've not experienced what you have and so I can't say that I have thought much about this. Never actually considered it, frankly. Probably one of the reasons I hadn't feels somehow unloving to think of folks who will take and take until there's an expectation to give back. Easier to believe that it doesn't exist. But to call a spade a spade isn't unloving, it's just honest and perhaps more loving than pretending it doesn't exist.

Not sure how it applies to James 2. Those folks, even if undependable, are still not to be overlooked. If anything, it makes the truth of it that much harder to implement. Folks like that are even harder to love, harder to be with and harder to continually give to.

I'm not sure how to determine it except on a case by case basis, but it seems that there should be a limit on what you give in such circumstances. Jesus called people to give and to a self sacrificing commitment and some turned away when confronted with that. Love doesn't feed selfishness or laziness. How do you say when? A lot of discernment and advice I would think.

I'm with you, Salguod. Thanks.



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  • Evil thoughts? I don't think so. Evil would be to desire to just toss them aside. I've not experienced what you have and so I can't say that I have thought much about this. Never actually considered it, frankly. Proba...

  • I don't have any answers here, but I have some questions. They've been troubling me since I got connected with an honest-to-goodness bum. "Those who are poor" in America are that way because they choose not to be under...

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