You go through life as a Christian and as you roll through life, day to day, you’re going to be faced with so much garbage. It hits you from all over. You’re inundated. And it’s heavy. And the reason that I wanted to do a Christian podcast is so that I could possibly help build you up and equip you to go out into the world and take on all that garbage.
Conversely, I ask that you would remember to pray for me for this very same reason. Remember your bald Mexican friend, Mikey!
The book of James is interesting on many levels. The author, James, was Jesus’ brother. He didn’t believe that his brother was the Messiah for a while. Eventually, he finally came around and realized that Jesus is, in fact, the Son of God!
Recently, as I was reading through the second chapter of James’ book, there were a few verses that really jumped out at me. The first one, right off the bat is James 2:1.
Dear brothers, how can you claim that you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, if you show favoritism to rich people and look down on poor people?
You know, the Bible says that if you read the Word, you should meditate on it. Don’t just let your eyeballs fly over the page without really taking it in, but allow your mind to focus on what you read without distractions. Read the passages over and over again, if you need to, in order to absorb and devour it!
Think of an ice cream that you LOVE. Each verse should be like that scoop of ice cream that you savor with each and every bite!
In James 2:1, we are hit with the reality that each of us should show the same regard to a poor person standing outside of Vons, who is holding a sign that says “I need help” as you would if you were to walk inside of Vons and bump into San Diego Chargers Quarterback Philip Rivers. The only way stuff like this can happen is if your heart changes. And the only way your heart can change like this is to read the Bible as if it’s your favorite ice cream!
James continues in chapter two by saying:
If a man comes into your church dressed in expensive clothes and with valuable gold rings on his fingers, and at the same moment another man comes in who is poor and dressed in threadbare clothes, 3 and you make a lot of fuss over the rich man and give him the best seat in the house and say to the poor man, “You can stand over there if you like or else sit on the floor”—well, 4 judging a man by his wealth shows that you are guided by wrong motives.
A good friend of mine saw this exact scenario once and it completely turned him off to church! He saw a poor guy, dressed kinda shabby, walk into a really nice church, filled with really well-dressed people… one of those churches that televise their services and have a home audience that they take into consideration when it comes to who is shown on camera.
But this guy was broken and needed the Lord!
Yet, they actually escorted him out because he didn’t look right for television.
This is exactly what James is writing about!
We can’t separate the rich and the poor, the celebrities and the everymen, or any other people we come into contact with and treat them differently simply because of the size of their bank accounts.
We need to remain humble.
I remember when I had the opportunity to interview NFL Great LaDainian Tomlinson. He was one of the – if not THE – greatest running back of his era, and yet he answered every question from little ol’ me with a “yes, sir” or “no, sir”. He was incredibly humble and set a great example!
Personally, I thought that I was humble. Yet, in most recent months, I have been humbled beyond belief. I have realized that perhaps what I thought was humility was actually a false sense of pride. After what I’ve been through recently, these verses in James really hit home for me.
Skipping ahead to verse 10, we read:
And the person who keeps every law of God but makes one little slip is just as guilty as the person who has broken every law there is. 11 For the God who said you must not marry a woman who already has a husband also said you must not murder, so even though you have not broken the marriage laws by committing adultery, but have murdered someone, you have entirely broken God’s laws and stand utterly guilty before him.
Now, you really do have to understand something about the Book of James. This is really important…
Remember when Luke Skywalker is flying through the Death Star’s trench about to fire his laser missiles into the tiny exhaust port? He had to hit his target perfectly in order to blow up the Death Star and save the galaxy. He had to lock in.
That’s how I want you to lock in on what I’m about to say…
James says some things in his book that some people might argue contradicts what Paul had written in some earlier books. For instance, Paul wrote that there is no condemnation in Christ. He also said that there is no way to earn your way into heaven. Yet, James says that faith without works is dead. How could you prove that you have any faith at all if you are not doing stuff that puts your faith into action?
But, the truth is that there is no contradiction between James and Paul at all. The truth is that we can’t work our way, or be good enough on our own to get into heaven. It doesn’t matter how many old ladies you walk across the street or how many water bottles you hand out to hot and thirsty commuters. When you stand before Jesus, all the good stuff you did in your life do not amount to enough to measure up to God’s holiness.
On the flip-side of this, there’s not enough bad stuff you can do that will get you into hell. If you are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, if you have repented of your sins, confessed them, and asked God to take the steering wheel of your life… then all is forgiven. So, when James says that if you had broken one of God’s laws, then you are just as guilty as if you have broken them all, he is not saying that by sinning you are sentenced to hell.
Especially if you repent.
Repentance means to turn away from your sin and say, “I’m not going to do that anymore.” First of all, when you become a Christian, the Holy Spirit enters into your life and He will transform you from the inside out. Therefore, if you stole something or lied about something and then you repent, then you turn away from that behavior, make things right and you don’t go back into that behavior.
Which leads me to forgiveness.
Let’s say you’re in a car with a buddy. He asks you to pull over for a second and you comply. After a couple minutes, he comes running back into your car, tosses several bags full of cash into the back seat and yells at you to drive away as fast as you can.
You quickly realize what just happened – your buddy just robbed a bank and now you are an accessory to the crime. You’re upset, but you drive away as fast as you can. Here’s the analogy. Forgiveness looks like this: Now, after being led around town by the person who just hurt you, you pull over, get out of the car and tell him that while you are really hurt by what he did, you aren’t going to continue to drive him and his baggage around.
When you don’t forgive someone, you are simply carrying along the weight of the baggage, pain and wrongdoings of someone else everywhere you go.
Then, you allow God to be the ultimate distributor of justice… not you.
Finally, James 2:15-16 says
If you have a friend who is in need of food and clothing, 16 and you say to him, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat hearty,” and then don’t give him clothes or food, what good does that do?
This is a great passage because it’s telling us that if we know someone in need, don’t just give them lip-service, but offer to actively help. Some people say, “Be there for others just as God is for you.” I’ve learned that part of being a healthy individual is helping and loving other people. It sounds strange, but you actually become much healthier by helping and loving other people. It’s simple. It’s true.
That’s why James tells us to not just tell people in need that you’ll pray for them… do something!