Friday after the Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: James 2:1-13 (NKJV)
1 My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. 2 For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, 3 and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” 4 have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
5 Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? 7 Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called? 8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well; 9 but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
The Book of James is written to “the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.” It is important to understand that this book was not written to unbelievers, but to those who already had faith in Jesus Christ. He is telling believers how those who have faith act and react to their neighbors. Jesus says to believers: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:37-39). James says the same thing that Jesus says.
When we were baptized we were given faith in Christ. St. Paul writes in Titus 3: “For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived…. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior…appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men.”
It is in this faith that our Old Adam is by daily contrition and repentance drowned and dies with all sin and evil desires, and a new man emerges and arises to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. It is in this faith that the new man can act and react to his neighbor in a God-pleasing way, with works of righteousness.
Lord, by Your grace, produce good works in me, to Your glory. Amen.