2:1-13-The Law of Love…is the foundation of relationships
Our faith in Jesus should have a direct affect upon how we treat other people. Do not show partiality to anyone...treating one better, and another less, based on their financial status. Keep the "royal law (Matthew 7:12)...love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18)". The word “royal” comes from the Greek word for “king”…so, it is the law that rules over all others. Partiality is a sin...as much as murder, or adultery. Sometimes we think of the law in terms of its separate, individual statements…such as the 10 Commandments. But James says that when we break part (one of those Commandments) of the law, we are actually breaking the whole law…because it is a cohesive description of the nature of God. So, the law it is not just some arbitrary declaration of right and wrong. When we break the law we are not just breaking a rule…we are actually in opposition to God, Himself.
The "law of liberty" is the "royal law"...we are set free, liberated to love all people as we would want to be loved, and to love all people equally. There are no restraints on our love, nothing that would constrain us to love one person more than another. The standard for judgment concerning our lives will be…”How much love did he show? (:12). Mercy is an expression of love towards those who are in need and have nothing to offer me in return…as opposed to my expressing love to someone because it will benefit me in return.
Merciful (Adjective, and Verb, to Be), Mercy (Noun, and Verb, to Have, Etc.):
"is the outward manifestation of pity; it assumes need on the part of him who receives it, and resources adequate to meet the need on the part of him who shows it. It is used
(a) of God, who is rich in mercy, Eph 2:4, and who has provided salvation for all men, Tts 3:5, for Jews, Luk 1:72, and Gentiles, Rom 15:9. He is merciful to those who fear him, Luk 1:50, for they also are compassed with infirmity, and He alone can succor them. Hence they are to pray boldly for mercy, Hbr 4:16, and if for themselves, it is seemly that they should ask for mercy for one another, Gal 6:16; 1Ti 1:2. When God brings His salvation to its issue at the Coming of Christ, His people will obtain His mercy, 2Ti 1:16; Jud 1:21;
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words,
2:14-26-The Work of Faith…is the proof of relationships
2:14-17-Faith should result in works
The true nature of our faith is seen not just in what we say, but in how it affects the way that we treat other people. Here, James says that our faith should affect the way that we treat those that are in need. It should lead us to take action. If it doesn't...it is dead, useless. John Calvin said, “Faith alone saves, but the faith that saves is not alone.” (Through the Bible with J. Vernon McGee, 1 Corinthians through Revelation, vol. V, p. 466)
2:18-26-Works is the proof of faith
James makes it clear that faith is not simply an intellectual concept, but a principle for action. Like two sides of the same coin, faith and works complement and complete each other. Faith is "perfected" (:22), brought to its purpose, matured, when it is applied in works. It is brought to life. The true nature of our faith is seen by our works.
Prayer: Lord, please forgive me for the times when I have judged others based solely on how they look, or what they have. I need to have Your mercy.