This particular passage goes hand in hand with Matthew 22:37-40. In those verses, Jesus is asked a question about the greatest of the commandments. Understand that the Law given to Moses is bigger than just 10 Commandments. The Law is contained in the first five books of the Old Testament, and Jesus picked two that are not listed as a part of the 10 Commandments. However, the 10 Commandments are naturally divided into the two commandments that Jesus shared. We are to love God and make Him first in our lives, and we are love one another.
Turning to James 2:1-13, remember that James is writing to Christians. He may not use the same terminology as Christ, but he means the same thing. Here, the writer teaches us to 1. honor and glorify our Lord Jesus Christ in 2. the way we respect and treat others.
This became a reality to me this last week during a teacher in-service meeting. I listened to a speaker discuss how we as teachers get along with others. One comment that the man made was, “the problem is people, and the solution is people.” As a teacher, I have to get along with children, parents, other teachers, administration, kitchen staff, janitors, and the list goes on. Sometimes we divide the list into categories of certified and classified; or professional and support staff. Regardless of how we divide it, the reality is that we are all people.
While I sitting there, listening to the speaker, I could not help but think of a Biblical example. I begin to reflect upon Luke 7:36-50. In the passage, Jesus has been invited to Simon, the pharisee’s home. While eating, a woman approaches Jesus from behind. Can you imagine Jesus as He sat there, and warm tears began to drop on His feet? One by one, each tear would trickle down and across His feet. Eventually, He feels the strands of the woman’s hair as she begins to wipe up her tears. Next, she sacrificially anointed Jesus’ feet. She brakes open the most expensive thing she owned, a bottle of perfume. She pours it on the Lord’s feet, and the room is filled with the aroma. The odor is everywhere. It has saturated every fiber of the room.
Simon thinks to himself, if Jesus could just know what kind of a woman she is, He wouldn’t even let her touch Him.
Know that we serve a mighty God. He knows us; He knows our struggles; He even knows our thoughts, and He knew Simon’s too.
Jesus teaches the Pharisee an important lesson. Using a parable, Christ says, “one who has been forgiven much, loves much.” The truth is that unless you have been through what someone else has experienced, sometimes, it’s hard to understand that person.
James 2:1-13 reflects upon the same idea. Only, this time he uses an example from church. His illustration involves two men visiting the same church for the first time. One is obviously very wealthy. He has on very expensive clothes and rings. The other is a very poor man. He is not wearing any rings, and his clothes have holes in them.
The church’s usher greets both men and shows them to their seats. The wealthy man is guided to a place in the front of the room. The usher wants everyone to see who just came in. He wants to make sure that the pastor sees this man. On the other hand, the poor man is shown to an obscure place. His place is “out of sight, out if mind.” It’s probably somewhere in the back. James suggests that he sat on the floor beside a footstool.
James wants you and me as readers to know that it’s not the material things that we have that measures our spirituality. He even writes, “Listen, my beloved brothers: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and the heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?”
In the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3) Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” The poor in spirit are those who have come to a place where they recognize their need for God. Their possessions do not matter, they simply know that they need a relationship with God.
If you and I are guilty of showing favoritism, then according to The Bible, we are committing sin. In James 2:8, the author reminds us of Leviticus 19:18, but the verse is more familiar as a quote from Christ in Luke 7. James writes, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The truth is that we are all guilty of sin. The Good News is that Christ died on the cross, was buried in a tomb, and then He was gloriously raised from the dead to save us from our sins. Ask God for His forgiveness, invite Christ into your life, trust Him to save you, and begin a new life.
Today, like our Lord Jesus Christ and James, I want to encourage you to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all you mind.” And, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”