Thursday, July 4, 2019 -
I love the second chapter of James, for it demonstrates in practical ways how a changed heart is to act towards others. It does not show partiality and good works based on “what’s in it for me”, but rather it is based on genuine altruism, mercy and love for others that Christ places in our hearts. Instead, we are to “love your neighbor as yourself” (v.8). Showing partiality is sin, says James (v.9).
James gives several examples: If a rich man comes into your assembly, wearing all the finest things, and a poor man comes in who is DIRTY, and you tell the rich man to sit in a preferential place, and the poor dirty man to stand in the back away from everyone, that is sin, and worthy of judgment (v.1-6). I envision those who’ve come into our church who stink horribly, which has happened. Our natural tendency is to move away from them and protect our sense of smell, but no, God says don’t do that!
James provides another example. A brother or sister in the Lord, who is without clothing and in need of daily food. If we give them a verbal blessing with our mouth but do not help to clothe and feed them, what good are our words (v.14-16)? “Faith without works is useless,” says James (v.20). The needs we must fulfill don’t necessarily require our finances. It could require our time, our listening ear, and introduction to someone else, our hospitality, or even a ride somewhere no matter the sacrifice. Refusing to turn a deaf ear is what being a Christian is all about.
I experienced this the day after I came to prison when I moved from the “shoe”, or “hole” to my regular cell block. I had nothing – no soap, no shampoo, no razor, shower shoes, deodorant, toothbrush or toothpaste. My cellmate “J”, and “S” in the cell next to me, took me and introduced me to “C”! He pulled out a huge bag of nothing but toiletries from under his bunk and handed me everything I needed. It’s the way he and some of his Christian brethren tithe in prison, he told me, keeping the bag for those who come in, like me, and have nothing. It was a God-send, as I went a whole week before I received my login information and funds appeared on my books. And I also consider how many have compassionately stood by my family and me during this difficult time providing meals, yard work, finances, paying legal bills, and most importantly covering us in prayer. That’s FAITH with WORKS! Thank you! God has great blessings for you!