As I read James 2, I am reminded of our Lord’s words to the Pharisees in Matthew 23: 23. “For you… have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done…” James is instructing rather than condemning here, but he reaches right to the heart of Christianity.
James deals with our propensity to judge one person more worthy than another as we walk through our daily lives. We don’t view people in an unbiased fashion. I am reminded of that as I drive past the same healthy looking panhandler year after year asking for a handout. I don’t view him with the same regard God does. I wouldn’t naturally treat him the same way I would someone of wealth. I need God to change my heart in such a way that I develop proper Godly judgment.
James goes on to point out that we miss the mark of perfection in these areas because we lack mercy in our judgment. God sees us all through eyes of mercy. We have all fallen short and are in need of Him, the rich and the poor alike. All people need God’s mercy, so James reminds us to be merciful in our judgments so that we may receive that same mercy our lives.
James then deals with our understanding of faith. The essence of his instruction here is that evidence of our faith is demonstrated in our daily walk. Faith is not just a belief; rather it is the underlying reason for our actions. We behave according to our beliefs; according to our faith.
The Apostle John took it a step further in 1 John 4:20,21. He says, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen… whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
Our love of God, as well as our faith, hinges upon our actual love towards those around us. We demonstrate our love of God, to God, by actually demonstrating love to our spouses, natural family, church family, co-workers, friends, acquaintances, neighbors, homeless persons, and last but not least – enemies.
These are the weightier matters of the Law as Jesus put it. Do you feel the weight of that? I do. We are to walk in proper Godly judgment, mercy towards others, and faith in God that is demonstrated in acts of love towards others.
“Jesus, bring us closer to you that we may be changed into your image. Transform us into children that love one another as you and the father have loved us.”