Scriptures for September 6th: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23, Psalm 125, James 2:1-10, 11-13, 14-17, Mark 7:24-37
James is my absolute favorite book of the Bible, because he cuts right through the chase. If you are reading the book correctly, you should feel very uncomfortable. This author is a very different author from Paul. Whereas Paul says that we can only live with the aid of the grace of God. James starts with the premise that everything that we have is from God, but he makes the point to that to believe that, but not to act upon it in your life, is useless. Faith without works is dead. James also seems to notice that we react much more favorably to those who can give in return, than to those who can’t. Yet Jesus tells us that to be a Christian is to give to those who don’t have it to return to us.
Proverbs: James can be thought of as a book of proverbs for his time. Both are books of advice on how to live right. So it is not a surprise that both James would pick up on the topic listed by proverbs: helping the poor. One commentary asks the question, how to you check the reputations of others – by a credit check or a character check? Do we care about their bank account, or their spiritual account? In our lives, do we make provisions for others to live in dignity, or do we hoard our resources for ourselves? What does the Bible command us to do when others are in need?
Questions: What kind of relationship do you have with God? With neighbor? Whose name do you carry in your actions? James asks the question, when we show favoritism, do we really demonstrate our belief in Jesus? What any of our actions say about our faith? What part of our character do we need to strengthen in order to do God’s will?