Walk This Way
Week 4: James 2:1-13
God’s goal for us is maturity. Maturity perseveres under pressure and puts faith into action. This week we consider another important mark of maturity – the growing ability to treasure each person and to see them as someone Christ loves and gave his life for. Kids in everyday life don’t always respect and value each other equally because they lack maturity. They can be mean and hurtful when encountering difference and especially during the teen years, social status can become an obsession. James calls us to a different way to think and live as we hold on to our faith in Christ. There is no room in the church for the social classifications and posturing that prevailed in James’ time and that are just as prevalent in our culture today. Instead, the road to maturity follows Jesus’ lead as he treasures each person and calls all to equal redeemed status before God. This status is given by grace, it is not of ourselves. Living this way is challenging and counter-cultural. But it is also refreshing and a testimony to the world of the love of Christ working in and through us.
What factors matter most for determining someone’s social status in the settings where you live and work?
Getting into the Text:
1. (James 2:1) How is our common salvation in Christ a firm basis for not showing partiality? How is this way of life also about imitating our Lord’s own character? See also Galatians 3:26-28, Romans 3:23-24, and Acts 10:34-35.
2. (James 2:2-4) In James’ culture, social status was extremely important and the public display of one’s status was expected and encouraged. Why do you think James is being so counter-cultural here? What is the root problem behind making distinctions like this in the church? What does he mean by the phrase “judges with evil thoughts?”
3. (James 2:5-7) Here James appeals to logic to support his point. Explain his argument in your own words. Why does he think it makes no logical sense to favor the rich over the poor?
4. (James 2:8-11) How does the second great commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” relate to showing partiality? Given the other laws James references here, how serious does he consider this issue to be? What are the dangers for the church if we allow the status markers of the surrounding culture to carry over into church life?
5. (James 2:12-13) How should we speak and act in light of all of this? Who is/are on the receiving end of the mercy in these verses? Who is/are being judged?
Do you consciously or unconsciously attach different value to people who have different financial resources, professional credentials, age, gender, race, etc.? Are you ever tempted to use your own social status to exert influence in the church? Are you resentful or jealous toward others who wrongly receive more attention because of their social status? Mature believers need to be open to letting God’s word speak into their lives regularly. Use Psalm 139:23-24 as a prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to search you, to reveal any grievous way in you, and lead you to live a life that reflects who Christ has made us all to be.