Welcome to James 2, my friends! I must say that I am so excited about studying the book of James and I hope that you are enjoying it too. Once again, I will break the chapter down. This time, into verses 1-13 and 14-26. If you missed part 1, go here!
James starts out with a plea to believers: to not let their walk in the Lord be tainted with favoritism. This is about more than just treating our brothers and sisters unfairly (although it is certainly wrong too)-- it's also saying that we are the judge and we know best. If we favor some, we judge that they are more worthy than another. That is truly only the decision of God and Christ. Even more so, the "poor" that we might look down on are really only poor in the eyes of the world. To God, they might be immeasurably rich.
Truly, we cannot be keeping the greatest commandment if we show favoritism. When we show favoritism, we are NOT loving our neighbor. As Christ has pointed out, James points out as well-- if you break one point of the law, you break them all! Sadly, we all fall short, but thankfully, God is merciful!
So if God is merciful towards us, shouldn't we be all the more merciful with others? After all, we are only human, not an all-powerful Being. Yet He chooses to forgive and have mercy, and so should we. It reminds me of the time Christ says that with the same measure you use, so it shall be used toward you. The example of David in regards to this is brilliant. When David is fleeing from the evil King Saul, he time and time again shows mercy to the undeserving King in sparing his life. Later, when David sinned by committing adultery and murder, God forgives him. Perhaps it was David's very mercy toward Saul that God remembered when He decided to show the same mercy to David.
Faith and works seems to be a never ending discussion that can get very tricky. But the point of the matter is, works won't save you because they don't necessarily come from faith. BUT faith isn't real unless it is manifested in works. When James points out that Abraham was justified by believing God, we should note that the very act of believing God was a work in itself! In the end, it's so easy to say something, but we must actually DO! God knows our hearts... which can be either immeasurably comforting or very frightening.
But He knows. He knows when you are doing your absolute best. He knows your heart, and He is merciful.