Part of my Matthew 19:14 Project.

James 2

Family in Christ, if we believe in Jesus, we cannot pick favorites. Let’s say you’re in a class and someone comes in with the coolest clothes and haircut, and someone else comes in wearing raggedy old clothes and smells funny. If you go straight to the cool kid and make friends but you leave out or are mean to the raggedy kid, you are trying to do God’s job of judging – that is, you are trying to take God’s place!

There are many people who don’t have a lot of stuff – maybe they are raggedy looking – that have the most important thing – that is: faith! And Jesus promised that those don’t have much will be given His whole kingdom! But if you treat the raggedy kid different from the cool kid, you are trying to take over God’s promise like it is your own. And why are you picking that cool kid anyway? Aren’t those kids the ones who pick on you and get you in trouble and make fun of you for knowing Jesus?

Remember God’s big two rules: Love God the most, and love other people as much as you love yourself. If you love others as much as yourself, you’re doing the right thing. But if you pick certain people to like more than others, then you aren’t loving other people as much as you love yourself. How can you love yourself two different amounts? That means you are sinning – you’re separating yourself from God. The thing is, even if you only break one part of one rule, that’s the same thing as breaking all the rules. Think about it like this: God said “honor your Father and Mother” and also “Do not murder.” But if you don’t murder anyone but you disobey your parents, you still broke the rules.

Be kind to others and don’t pick favorites. Even though you aren’t stuck by the rules because Jesus stands in your place, the rules still matter. If you aren’t kind to even those people you don’t like as much, you won’t be shown that kindness by God. Mercy – that is, not being punished even though you deserve it – is something that wins! It wins over the punishment you should get from breaking the rules. (In other words, by picking favorites, you should be punished like you broke all of the rules. But Jesus stood in your place by dying, so now God shows you mercy – you don’t get punished anymore even though you should.) Show that same mercy to other people.

The thing is, you can believe in God all day, but if it doesn’t change how you act and what you do, is your belief in God even worth anything? Let’s say your friend doesn’t have a coat for the wintery snow and is really hungry because his family doesn’t have any food. What if you say to your friend, “I hope you stay warm and have plenty of food” but you don’t actually do anything to help your friend get a coat or food, then what good is it to even say that? And what kind of friend are you? Not a very good one! In the same way, believing in God but never changing how you act or what you do is totally pointless. You aren’t really friends with God that way. What you do matters, and so does what you believe.

(But don’t take it too far! Someone else might say, “Well, I’ll just do all the right stuff but not even believe in God then.” You can say that to me, but I’ll show you how much I believe in God because of how I act. They are connected. Just remember – believing in God isn’t even a question. Even demons believe in God. And they are scared to death of Him!)

I can show you how faith is pointless if you don’t try to do the right thing. Think about Abraham. He believed in God so much and he trusted God so much – that’s faith, by the way – that he was willing to offer his only son Isaac as a sacrifice (that means kill him and burn his body on the altar for God! What a terrible thing to have to do!) because God told him to. You see, God was giving him a test to see how much faith he had. He knew God would give him another son or raise his son back from the dead even if it seemed impossible, because he trusted God to keep His promise. So he tied up Isaac and was ready to kill him. God stopped him and provided a ram instead. But Abraham did what God had asked! What he actually did lined up with what he said. Because of this faith, Abraham was called God’s friend! So what you do matters, and so does what you believe.

And remember Rahab? She was not a good person before she trusted God, and she didn’t do the right thing very much. In fact, she got paid money like it was her job to sleep with lots of different men outside of marriage. But God got her heart and changed her actions. She protected God’s men from the people in her town who were after them. What you do matters, and so does what you believe.

You know how your body is dead when your Spirit leaves and goes to heaven? Well, if you believe in God but don’t do anything about it, that’s like your Spirit being separate from your body. It’s like it is not alive anymore. It’s like it is dead. What do you do matters, and so does what you believe.


James 1

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