By what WE do, as well? (part 2)
So, following on from yesterday, let’s take the situation James was faced with and why he used the example of Abraham to deal with it.
James is dealing with people who “considered themselves religious,” James 1:26, but they weren’t acting very religious. For instance (same verse), “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” And on that point I remember driving home after a jolly time at church and feeling very religious, but in the car yelling angrily at our kids. I haven’t forgotten it, the total disconnect between what I’d been hearing in church and my actions afterwards.
And the same with those James was writing to. What they were doing, and how they were behaving, wasn’t tied in with what they’d been taught from God’s word. And that was sad, because “the word planted in you is what can save you,” verse 21. That’s because Scripture (“the word”), verse 25, is “the perfect law that gives freedom.” So the person who sets about “doing what he’s heard will be blessed in what he does,” because it “brings about the righteous life that God desires (for us),” verse 20. God designed his word to help us live a good life, and free us, or “save” us, from a bad one.
But here were “brothers” and “believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ,” James 2:1, who knew that “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself,’ you are doing right,” verse 8, but they were fawning all over the rich people coming to their meetings while shabbily treating the poor. A total disconnect again between what they were learning and how they were behaving.
Which explains why James wrote in James 1:22, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” For instance, if they really believed it was right and good to love a neighbour in need, then don’t just wish warmth and food on them, do something about it (James 2:15-16). Because all that faith they had in God’s word was completely empty if they weren’t living it in real life, right (2:17)?
Which is why James used the example of Abraham, because Abraham’s faith in God’s word led him to living it too…(more on this tomorrow)