James 2

Every person has equal value

1 My Christian friends, you must be kind to everyone. You trust the Lord Jesus Christ, who is great in heaven. So do not think that anyone is more valuable than any other person.

2 When you are meeting together as believers, maybe two men will come to join with you. One of them is wearing beautiful clothes, and he has gold rings on his hands. The other man is poor, and he is wearing old clothes that are dirty. 3 You are kind to the man who is wearing beautiful clothes. You say to him, ‘Please sit here in this good place.’ But you say to the poor man, ‘Go and stand over there.’ Or you may say to him, ‘Sit on the floor near my feet.’ 4 If you do that, you are thinking bad thoughts. You have decided that one person among you is better than another person. You must not do that.

5 My Christian friends, listen to me. God has chosen to bless people who are poor in this world. He has helped them to trust him. So really they are rich. God will give to them a place in his kingdom. He has promised to do that for all people who love him. 6 But you have not been kind to people who are poor. You have caused them to feel ashamed. Who causes you to have troubles? It is the rich people! They are the people who want the judges to punish you. 7 It is the rich people who say bad things against the good name of Jesus Christ. And you are called Christians because you belong to him.

8 But the message of God's kingdom is this: ‘Love other people as much as you love yourself.’ That is what the Bible says. If you really do that, you do well. 9 But if you are kind to some people and you are not kind to others, then you are doing a bad thing. God's Law shows that you are wrong. 10 Even if you fail to obey only one rule in God's Law, it means that you are guilty. It is the same as if you fail to obey all God's Law. 11 For example, God has said in his Law, ‘You must not have sex with anyone who is not your husband or your wife.’ But God has also said, ‘Do not kill another person.’ Perhaps you do not have sex in a wrong way like that. But if you then murder someone, God's Law shows that you are still wrong.

12 Remember that God will judge you one day. When he does that, he will use a law which makes us free. So remember this in everything that you say and in everything that you do. 13 God will not forgive anyone who has not forgiven other people. But God is kind! He judges us, but even more than that, he forgives us!

Believe God and do good things

14 My Christian brothers, you say that you believe in God. Then you must show this in the things that you do. If not, your faith will not help you. It will not save you. 15 For example, maybe a believer does not have enough clothes to wear or enough food to eat. 16 Then one of you may say to them, ‘Go with God's peace! I pray that you will be warm. I pray that you will eat well.’ But if you do not give to them what they need, that does not help them at all. 17 How we believe in God is also like that. If our faith does not lead us to do good things, then it is not worth anything. It is dead!

18 Someone may say, ‘You believe in God, but I do good things to help people.’ Then I would say, ‘You cannot show me that you believe in God if you do not do good things. I do good things, and that shows that I really believe in God.’ 19 You believe that there is only one God. That is good! But even the demons believe that! And it makes them very afraid.

20 You fool! If someone's faith does not lead them to do good things, it is not worth anything. You should know that! 21 Think about our ancestor Abraham. He offered his son Isaac on the altar as a gift to God. Because he did that good thing, God accepted him as right with himself. 22 Abraham believed in God, and he did what God asked him to do. So you can see that both of these were necessary. When he did this good thing, he showed that he believed in God completely. 23 The Bible tells us what happened. It says, ‘Abraham believed God. As a result, God accepted Abraham as right with him.’ God also called Abraham his friend.

2:21See Genesis 22.
2:23See Genesis 15:6.

24 So you see how God accepts someone as right with himself. That person must not only believe in God. He must also do good things to show that he has faith.

25 It was the same with Rahab, long ago. She was a prostitute. She helped some of God's people who came to her house. She kept them safe from their enemies and she sent them away again by a different road. Because she did those good things, God accepted her as right with himself. 26 If our bodies have no spirit, they are dead. In the same way, if our faith does not lead us to do good things, it is dead.