World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
2. Favoritism Forbidden
1My brethren, hold not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 2For if there come into your synagogue a man with a gold ring, in fine clothing, and there come in also a poor man in vile clothing; 3and ye have regard to him that weareth the fine clothing, and say, Sit thou here in a good place; and ye say to the poor man, Stand thou there, or sit under my footstool; 4Do ye not make distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? 5Hearken, my beloved brethren; did not God choose them that are poor as to the world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to them that love him? 6But ye have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you, and themselves drag you before the judgment-seats? 7Do not they blaspheme the honorable name by which ye are called? 8Howbeit if ye fulfil the royal law, according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: 9but if ye have respect of persons, ye commit sin, being convicted by the law as transgressors. 10For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is become guilty of all. 11For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou dost not commit adultery, but killest, thou art become a transgressor of the law. 12So speak ye, and so do, as men that are to be judged by a law of liberty. 13For judgment is without mercy to him that hath showed no mercy: mercy glorieth against judgment. 14What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but have not works? can that faith save him? 15If a brother or sister be naked and in lack of daily food, 16and one of you say unto them, Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; and yet ye give them not the things needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself. 18Yea, a man will say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith apart from thy works, and I by my works will show thee my faith. 19Thou believest that God is one; thou doest well: the demons also believe, and shudder. 20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith apart from works is barren? 21Was not Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar? 22Thou seest that faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect; 23and the scripture was fulfilled which saith, And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God. 24Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith. 25And in like manner was not also Rahab the harlot justified by works, in that she received the messengers, and sent them out another way? 26For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead.
Those who profess faith in Christ as the Lord of glory, must not respect persons on account of mere outward circumstances and appearances, in a manner not agreeing with their profession of being disciples of the lowly Jesus. St. James does not here encourage rudeness or disorder: civil respect must be paid; but never such as to influence the proceedings of Christians in disposing of the offices of the church of Christ, or in passing the censures of the church, or in any matter of religion. Questioning ourselves is of great use in every part of the holy life. Let us be more frequent in this, and in every thing take occasion to discourse with our souls. As places of worship cannot be built or maintained without expense, it may be proper that those who contribute thereto should be accommodated accordingly; but were all persons more spiritually-minded, the poor would be treated with more attention that usually is the case in worshipping congregations. A lowly state is most favourable for inward peace and for growth in holiness. God would give to all believers riches and honours of this world, if these would do them good, seeing that he has chosen them to be rich in faith, and made them heirs of his kingdom, which he promised to bestow on all who love him. Consider how often riches lead to vice and mischief, and what great reproaches are thrown upon God and religion, by men of wealth, power, and worldly greatness; and it will make this sin appear very sinful and foolish. The Scripture gives as a law, to love our neighbour as ourselves. This law is a royal law, it comes from the King of kings; and if Christians act unjustly, they are convicted by the law as transgressors. To think that our good deeds will atone for our bad deeds, plainly puts us upon looking for another atonement. According to the covenant of works, one breach of any one command brings a man under condemnation, from which no obedience, past, present, or future, can deliver him. This shows us the happiness of those that are in Christ. We may serve him without slavish fear. God's restraints are not a bondage, but our own corruptions are so. The doom passed upon impenitent sinners at last, will be judgment without mercy. But God deems it his glory and joy, to pardon and bless those who might justly be condemned at his tribunal; and his grace teaches those who partake of his mercy, to copy it in their conduct.