Meditations on James 1:26-2:7

v26, Authentic Christians are responsible for doing something with our life. We are not called to just be right; rather, we are called to get busy while staying clean! This should be seen in all that we do and believe (Prov. 19:17). Therefore if we are like the person that “Does not bridle his tongue” we are not genuine. God calls us to use our words for good (Psalm 141:3; Prov. 10:19; 16:24; Matt. 5:9; 12:34; Eph. 4:29). We are not to divorce our tongue from our mind and heart! We don’t want to be “Useless”. The essential quality that shows who we are in Christ, is putting our words forward with intent to reflect our faith and character. When we are careless with our words, we are being careless with our Lord and His calling. James calls us to wake up and get real with our faith and work. God literally hates it when we do not pay attention to what comes from our lips (Psalm 5:9; 12:3; 52:2; 109:2; 120:2; Prov. 17:4; 27-28; 25:23; 26:20; Jer. 9:8; James 3:1-12; 3 John 9-12)

v27, Pure and undefiled religion refers to obedience that is pleasing to God-doing something with our faith. Orphans and widows are the powerless ones in society. They have fewer resources and in Judea were often thrown away as many cultures do with them today. The Jews did a fair job of taking care of them, and the Romans only took care of the orphans of its citizens. Even though it was a very small percentage, most other cultures did nothing. True Christianity involves defending and providing for the helpless and needy! God’s call is powerful, purposeful, and clear; take care of them! (Ex. 22:20-24; Deut. 10:18; 14:29; Psalm 9:18; 68:5; 146:9; Isa. 1:17; Ezek. 22:7) God’s Word will lead to godly action when it is received by a person who is rooted in Christ, whose life has been transformed. If not, we are self deluded as James states in verses 23-27 and Ezekiel in Ezek 3:30-32. If we prayerfully read our Bibles God’s Spirit will help us with a visible result as our faith increases, and our purpose is set with a life that is worth living.

2:1, Partiality/ favoritism means to receive by face value only, like judging a book by its cover. It is to favor someone externally based on their appearance, race, economic status, or value in society. Here, racism is superficial and it is condemned as being evil! Jewish wisdom stressed (but did not always practice) when our focus is on God, we are to see others in His image, not what they can do to or for us. We are called to discern evil from good, but not make judgments based on appearances only (Rom. 2:11; Gal. 2:6-8 Eph. 6:9; Col. 3:25).

2:6, Dishonored the poor. Treating others by the ways of the world and not the way of our Lord brings disgrace to people and God (Deut. 15:7-11). The poor gain grace and favor because they have learned to trust and rely on God alone, not just for being poor. They were the ones with the most faith and contribute to the church the most in what matters (Psalm 9:18; Luke 6:20; 1 Cor. 1:26-31)  Prejudice is defined as forming an opinion without knowing the facts. Prejudice, discrimination, and favoritism are heinous things before God the Father, who sees all of us as His children. The biggest problems, both in the family and in nations, are the superficial ways we judge each other and do not love. Looking at someone with favor or disgust because of appearance is not godly. In His eyes, we are demeaning our brother for superficial and meaningless reasons. (Matt. 28:19-20; John 13:34-35; Acts. 10:34; 17:24-28;  Rom. 2:11; 15:7; 1 Cor. 1:25-29; 1 Thess. 5:11; 1 John 4:7-21)

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