After the summer break, we resumed Bible studies tonight, with Mark choosing to go over James 2:1-13 again.

In the film ‘Batman Begins’, Rachel Dawes tells Bruce Wayne, “It’s not who you are underneath; it’s what you do that defines you.” Such a view is not Biblical. Who you are will always determine what you do and even though James is one of the most practical of the New Testament letters, there is a clear correlation between what you believe and how you act. In these opening verses, James clearly reveals how wrong attitudes will lead to discrimination, partiality or favouritism and condemns such attitudes and actions.

It is dangerous to judge by appearances and to look only on the outward; wealth is deceptive and it is all too easy to fall under its seductive spell. James reminds us that judging others is not our business (see James 4:11-12, also Matthew 7:1-7). There is only one Judge and Law-Giver, and we need to be careful to treat people equally, without partiality or favouritism. If nothing else, Hebrews reminds us that we might be entertaining angels unawares! Tramps, drunks, those who don’t fit our ‘respectable’ moulds are still people for whom Christ died and we need to offer them the same love and respect that we would show to the wealthy. If we don’t, we are hypocrites who are undermining God’s law.

It’s so much easier to see the speck in our brother’s eye than the plank in our own. We sing about this in a Doug Horley children’s song, but these truths are not just for children! We need to let the word of God penetrate our hearts and challenge our behaviour. Jesus reached out to the lepers, the ‘untouchables’ of society. He was welcomed by sinners, but the religious leaders of the day were scandalised by His willingness to keep the company of sinners. Untainted by sin, Jesus showed compassion and gave forgiveness to all. That is the standard we live by.