If you were able to worship with us yesterday, then you know that the message was all about God’s love. How Jesus instructs us to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind; and then to equally love our neighbor as ourself (Matt 22:34-40). Today’s passage, from James, goes hand-in-hand with Jesus’s teaching about “The Most Important Commandment” which is LOVE.
The Book of James might only have five chapters, but this shorter Book is packed with knowledge and great wisdom in a very practical way. Within the first chapter, James reminds us of how we are called to treat one another and to speak to one another. As James moves into the second chapter, he provides us with “A Warning Against Prejudice”, because Jesus does not want us to favor some people over others. Remember, Jesus calls us to love Him first and then to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus didn’t say, just love the neighbor to your right, or to you left, or the one that you like the best; rather Jesus says, we are to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us, and those individuals are considered our “neighbors” just as much as our “neighbors” who are easy to love (Matt 5:43-48).
Friends, I understand this might seem like an extremely difficult ask from Jesus. Listen, I myself, had to ask a fellow believer to pray for me this past week as I was struggling to love someone the way Jesus loves them. I had to be reminded, that when Jesus washed the disciples feet (in John 13) He knew which one would betray Him, which one would deny Him, which one would doubt Him, which one would be broken hearted, which one would appear to be strong on the outside but scared inside, and so on…and it didn’t matter to Him, because Jesus loved them all the same and it’s just as much as He loves you and me. You might be thinking, “Well, He’s Jesus, and I just can’t love everyone the same”, and James addresses how when we fail to love the way that Jesus loves, and commands us to love, then we are sinning. I realize James compares a lack of love for our neighbor to adultery and murder, and that is to remind us that the same One Who commands us to not partake in adultery and murder, is the same One Who commands us to LOVE.
James 2:8-13 (NLT)
8 Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 9 But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law.
10 For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. 11 For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law.
12 So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. 13 There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.
Prayer: Jesus, thank You for setting the example of pure love for me. Help me, Lord, to have a heart like Your heart and to be more equally loving to all of Your creation. Forgive me when I fall short, and quicken my spirit, Holy Spirit, to see each person how You see them. I want to be more and more like You, Jesus. I ask all of this in Your Name, Jesus. Amen.