Living faith will be seen in our deeds – James 2.1-17

These are my notes from the second sermon in our series on the Letter of James which was preached at the 8am service on Sunday 6th September.


last week began series on James
Letter focus on what living faith looks like
– relationship with Jesus
– transformed lives
– called to be hearers and doers of word – e.g controlling our tongues and caring for vulnerable

this week continue – 2 more areas where true faith affect how we live our lives
– how treat people
– how respond to people’s needs

Rejecting way of the world

Ch 1 ends with instruction to ‘keep oneself unstained by world’ (1.27)

ancient world
– v clear about who had power & who was important – the rich
– little changed!

but Jesus challenged world’s assumptions
– Kingdom of God turns values of world upside down
– poor to be heirs of kingdom (v5) (cp. Beatitudes – blessed are poor in spirit for their is the kingdom of heaven Matt 5.3


Ch 2 begins with situation where people’s actions demonstrate that not putting beliefs into practice
– rich man enters church – shown great deference & given best seat
– poor man enters church – not given any dignity or comfort
– NB – James clear it is appearance of 2 men that leads to different treatment

Why is rich man treated better?
– assumption because rich clothing he is more important than poor man
– using man’s appearance to make judgements about his value rather than his character
-often treat well dressed impressive looking people better because rather identify with successful people that apparent failures

James’ response: challenge favouritism – ‘My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ?’
– gathered to worship God so saying they are Christians
– actions question whether they just believe about Jesus or believe in Jesus in 2 ways:

  1. Jesus taught that God has special heart for the poor so if anything the poor person should be treated with more honour than the rich
  2. Judging people by superficial things
    – not how God judges us
    – all tendency to favouritism in some degree
    – all know it is irrational when stop to think about it – wealth – made wise decisions and worked hard – gd fortune to be born into wealthy family – sign of greed, dishonesty and selfishness – may not be wealthy man at all – just begged, borrowed or stolen some decent clothes
    – Bible clear that God looks at our hearts not our appearance e.g Samuel – goes to Bethlehem to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as king – works through older sons – each rejected by God – David – youngest – But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’ (1 Sam 16.7)

Favouritism not trivial matter

James – if show favouritism – breaking commandment to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’
– sin – not big sins and small sins – this is as bad as murder or adultery
– need to confess to God and ask forgiveness
– reminder as pray in Lord’s Prayer – will be shown mercy to extent we show mercy to others
– all equal in eyes of God so true faith lead us to treat all people equally  – There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3.28) – God created all people in his image – He loves all that he has made – Jesus died for all people
– should follow God’s eg and not show favouritism because it is violation of God’s laws of love

People in Need

second eg of how our faith will be seen in what we do – how respond when we see people in need? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food do we
– offer nice words
– do something practical to help

vital that we pray for those in need but too often we offer mere words when we are really being called on to act
– this person is in desperate need – no clothes – no food
– not enough to pray – need to give them practical help if we are able


‘What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works?’ (2.14)
– easy to say we have faith but if lifestyle remains selfish and worldly what good is it?
– if we have living faith it will be seen in what we say and do
– we will see everyone as God does – as his precious children – and treat them all the same
– we will respond people’s needs with compassion and practical aid
– we will hear the word and then do it.

Revd Rebecca Fardell






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