Be Doers of the Word: 2:1-13.
When God’s word takes root in us, life will be transformed. Genuine faith brings obedience. Our speech becomes gracious and seasoned with salt (Col 4:6). Our behavior will change. The believers should not show partiality. When we show partiality to the wealthy we are guided by evil motives. God has chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom of God. Discrimination is offensive to God and dishonor the poor. Christians must be sensitive to their needs. The world do not care about these virtues and despise Christians who obey the word of God. They not only oppress believers but also slander Jesus Christ (Acts 9:2; 11:26). It is good to obey the royal law. It is the law of love that commands “We should love others in the same way we love ourselves “(Matt 22: 39). Partiality is not a minor sin, it is the violation of God's law. If you Show favoritism you are guilty of breaking the law (James 2:9). God judges all by the same law, and by the same grace he redeems everyone who believes in Christ. Royal law is essential for maintaining social relationship and harmony. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty for all of it (James 2:10). Christians should walk the talk otherwise they will be judged. If Christ has dealt mercifully with us, we must be eager to demonstrate his mercy to others. Christians are saved by the mercy of God and it is impossible for them not to show mercy to others. “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (2:13).
Faith without Work is worthless: 2:14-20.
These verses are considered to be the most controversial passage in the New Testament. It may appear to oppose the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ. Many people misunderstand this passage because they fail to observe two significant facts about faith. Paul wrote his letters to explain the doctrine of the gospel. James deals with the practical implications and the nature of the gospel. In the Christian life, the object of our faith is Jesus Christ who works in us. The quality of faith is in whom we place our faith. The more confident we are in Christ, the stronger our faith will be. Real faith is more than mental assent of some biblical facts and our verbal affirmation. Demons believe that there is God and Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God. They tremble in fear at the thoughts of Jesus and the coming judgment (James 2:19; Matt 8:29). True faith results in a changed life as evidenced by works. The way we live reflect what we believe (Luke 3:8). Good theology apart from work is useless (2:20). What good our empty platitudes do to others? Pious expressions may seem to be religious but actions speak louder than words. We are not saved by our works, but faithful works from from saving faith.
The Examples of Faith: 2:21- 26.
To prove the practical implications of faith, James gives two examples from the Old Testament. Abraham is the father of all true believers. When Abraham was called by God, he obeyed. His faith was based on the promises of God. There is no conflict between faith and reason (Pro 3:5, 6). Abraham’s faith was not an empty reality, it was followed by works. He was justified by work before God and men. This does not contradict Paul’s statement that justification is by faith (Rom 5:1). Abraham was justified before God when he believed (Rom 4:2; Gen 15:6). His faith in God finds its channel of expression in the offering of his Son Isaac. Thus Abraham’s faith was validated by his action (James 2:22). His relationship with God was settled years before (Gen 15:6). It became evident when he offered his son Isaac. Abraham was called the friend of God by Jews, Arabs and Christians. So faith involves not only trust in Christ but also a life of obedience. In the same way Rahab the prostitute of Jericho justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them away by another way. Her faith was a saving faith. Faith involves our mind, emotion and will. She was delivered from condemnation and had the assurance of salvation (Joshua 2:9; 6:25). Her name is included in the family tree of our Lord (Matt 1:5). Rahab was instrumental in the salvation of her family. Her action was necessary to affirm her faith. Thus she demonstrated the reality of her faith. Just as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. A fruitless faith is nothing more than hypocrisy. James does not suggest that faith plus works equals justification. He agrees with Paul that faith alone justifies. The faith that justifies is the living faith that reflects the character of Christ helping others in a practical way.