Being a faithful person means that you don't favor rich people over poor people.
When fancy folks wearing expensive clothes stroll into church, everyone falls all over themselves to get these hoity toity guys a seat.
But when someone without a lot of cash in his pockets walks in, he's told to stand or sit on the ground. It's not very polite.
If that's how you treat the poor—whom God specifically said were going to be part of his kingdom—then you are really not getting it, says James.
Why should Christians love these rich guys so much anyway? Wealthy folks are the ones who have you arrested for following Jesus. They drag you into court and basically mock God. What's so awesome about them, again?
Faith vs. Works: The Ultimate Showdown
Remember when Jesus said that you should "love your neighbor as yourself"? He was pretty serious about that.
If you don't follow his teachings, then you've broken God's law. And we know what happens to law-breakers, don't we? Hint: it's not pretty.
If you're merciful to others, God will repay the favor. But if you spend most of your free time judging people based on their appearances, then God is gonna judge the heck out of you, too.
Seriously, you can't say you follow God and then act like a jerk.
Having faith alone can't save you. You also need to do good works to complete the picture.
James continues: it won't help anyone for you to just smile at poor people and wish them well. Where are they supposed to live? How are they going to eat? If you don't help those who need it, all your pious faith and feel-good beliefs are dead in the water.
Of course, some knuckleheads think that you can separate out faith and works.
These folks say, Hey, I have faith in God. You do the good works. Then everyone will be covered.
Nope. Sorry. Doesn't work like that.
Look, says James, there's one God, right? That means you can't divide out believing and doing. If you have faith in him, you'll act like it. Put your money where your mouth is.
Take Abraham for example. God told him to sacrifice his son, Isaac, and Abraham was totally gonna do it. He had the knife at the kid's throat when God told him to stop.
Abraham didn't just believe that what God said was right. He acted on it. Rahab, too. She might have been a Canaanite prostitute, but she helped the Israelites get into the Promised Land. Because of what she did, God totally dug her.
If your spirit leaves your body, you're dead. And if you just think nice things about God but never do anything, then you're dead, too. 'Nuff said.