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UNIT 4: Practical Christian Living (James)

LESSON 18: May 5, 2024.

Memory Verse: James 2:8 – If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well, (KJV).
Lesson Bible Text:
James 2
Lesson Central Truth:
Christians are called to demonstrate mercy and love to others.
Question: What do these three items have in common: a car, a bicycle, and a lawnmower?
Among the many possible answers to this question, we can be sure one would be: All perform a valuable function, but only when they are moving. Otherwise, they just clutter our garages.
In a similar way, God expects us to put our Christianity into action. True faith is seen in more than just what we believe or even in what we say. It involves expressing God’s love and mercy in our relationships with others. Today’s lesson examines ways Christians can put their faith into practice every day by demonstrating God’s mercy to others.
A. Respect Everyone Equally – James 2:1-4
B. Keep a Proper Perspective – James 2:5-7.
A. Favouritism Violates God’s Laws – James 2:8-11
B. The Time For Judgement Is Coming – James 2:12-13.
A. Living Faith Involves Action – James 2:14-20
B. Ensure Your Faith Is Living – James 2:26.
✅️ In chapter 2, James urges his readers not to show favouritism or partiality. To show more love and kindness to the rich than to the poor is not consistent with our professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. James’ example of honouring the rich in church–The believers James wrote to fell into the sin of favouritism by treating the rich differently than the poor. They gave the best seats in the church to the rich, while the poor were afterthoughts. Favouritism is prevalent in the world. Do we experience such in our various churches and families today? To favour the rich over the poor is a sin.
Today, we give special recognition to those who make large donations or tithes. Newcomers in the church are no more regarded except the rich ones. Different groups have been formed today in the church for partiality purposes–no one will care or look at your needs when you are not a member of the group. Many instances of partiality in the church are there, but as believers, we must repent and follow Christ’s ultimate example who died for the sins of the world, not just for one group of people. God created all people in His image. He values each one, poor or rich, healthy or sick, high or low IQ. Jesus gave His life for the people of the world. Since Christ does not show partiality, we must not either.
✅️ James pointed out that, among other reasons, favouritism is flawed because we tend to favour people who aren’t necessarily godly or worthy of our preferential treatment. He highlighted the folly of favouring the rich by noting that the Early Church was made up mainly of the poor (James 2:5; see also 1 Corinthians 1:26-29). James’ point is that Christians are rich in faith. God’s promises are greater than anything worldly riches can provide. At the same time, it’s important not to misunderstand James. He wasn’t saying that poverty has some inherent spiritual value or that rich people can’t serve God. We must keep a proper perspective by valuing spiritual things. Riches and other temporal things hold no value in eternity. James’ point is not that only the poor are saved or that the rich are condemned. His point is that a believer should not dishonour the poor man and honour the rich man. There is no difference in the way a poor or a rich man must go in order to be saved.
The only way is Christ! There is a call for us to keep a proper perspective. Whether the rich or poor, our motive should be to love and treat each other equally. Note that God offers salvation to both rich and poor. We must show mercy to our neighbours both the rich and poor.
James 2:8-13
✅️ The word law is used in each verse from 9-12. The law of God has been against favouritism from the time of the Old Testament. One example of loving your neighbour is to treat him fairly, regardless of his position in society. Another way we can demonstrate mercy is by fulfilling the royal law, i.e., the love for our neighbours. We must extend His love equally to all: rich or poor, good or bad, attractive or repulsive. Jesus said that the most important commands in Scripture are to love God with your heart, soul, and mind and to love your neighbour as yourself.
We fulfil the royal law by loving others. James went on to say that of the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as the person who has broken all of God’s laws. When we show partiality or favouritism, we have disobeyed the law to love our neighbours and, therefore, have broken the entire law. As believers, we are to reject any form of favouritism in our lives and allow God’s word to take hold of us to love one another equally.
✅️ The law of liberty is the law that sets on free. God’s grace sets us free from judgement. Judgement is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. From the parable of the unforgiving slave, we know that a true believer will, in turn, forgive and show mercy to others, while a false believer will not.
If we have not forgiven others, God will not forgive us. If we do forgive others, it is because God has forgiven us and enabled us to forgive them. This is directly connected to the idea of partiality. Mercy overlooks people’s flaws, weaknesses, and external appearance to extend God’s love to them. As believers, we are to spend some time in prayer. Thank God that you are not required to follow a set of rules in order to earn His favour. Thank God He has shown grace by giving you salvation you did not deserve.
James 2:14-26
✅️ Some people today read James’s arguments as a contradiction to the teachings of Paul. It’s not a necessary disagreement, as this passage actually complements the message of Paul very consistently. The reason for confusion involves a mistaken view of the biblical definition of “faith.” Saving faith is not merely agreement; it is trust. James makes it clear that the “faith,” which he says can not save, is mere intellectual belief. True faith saves, but it also results in works. Paul was eager to make clear that salvation could not be achieved by human effort. Freedom from the eternal penalty of sin is available only to those who trust in Christ. It is not something we can earn by keeping the law (Ephesians 2:8-9). But those saved through faith and by God’s grace will, without fail, step into the good works God has prepared for them to do (Ephesians 2:10). Faith can’t exist apart from action. Faith calls us to reach out to the needy. It calls us to respect the poor as well as the rich. Genuine saving faith is followed by action. Indeed, James agrees with Paul’s assertion. Paul emphasizes the “cause,” which is trusting faith, James emphasizes the “effect,” which is good works. James stresses that so-called-“faith”, which is merely mental agreement and does not produce good and loving works, is not a genuine, saving faith. He points to the Old Testament examples of Abraham and Rahab to show that their faith saved them and we know this because their “faith” resulted in obedience and courageous good works for God and His people.
✅️ James summarizes his teachings with the explicit comparison to a dead body. A body that exhibits no spirit or breath is not alive. In the same way, a “faith–in this case, meaning “intellectual belief”–with no resulting works – is also dead. Genuine, living faith will be accompanied by action. The two are inseparable. As believers, the one thing we must do is to make sure our faith is not a dead faith. Living faith is active faith. How we put it into action will depend on the needs we face and how God enables us. We must find ways to express our faith in our everyday lives. This is particularly true in how we relate to others. True faith means our hearts have been changed, and a changed heart is demonstrated through action. Faith with no demonstrable action is no real faith at all. The action is to demonstrate love to one another. We should not live by words alone, but let our words match our actions at all times.
Lesson Action Word
The blessings God has poured into our lives are not just for our own benefit but also for the enrichment of those around us. Let’s purpose to be alert to any opportunities that God puts in our path to love our neighbours as ourselves!
Lesson Prayer Point
Oh Lord! Surround us with your tender mercies so we may live, for your law is our delight (Psalm 119:77).
Remain blessed as you join us in our Sunday school both online and at any Assemblies Of God Church close to you as we study together under the Feet of the Master.
Share your contribution and as well ask your question from the lesson.
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