WEEK 2/Chapter 2 – The Book of James ~ A Bible Study for Families
(from The Message Translation)
By Allison T. Cain
Just in case you missed last week (Chapter 1) go back and start there – – – – Just a reminder: I have written this study using The Message translation to make it easier for children to comprehend. However, as you go along please read the text from your favorite and more traditional translation (we like the NIV). You can break this up by chapter or by verses. Do whatever is best for you and your family. I pray the lessons in the book of James will be absorbed in all of our hearts as we study it together.
Chapter 2 – The Royal Rule of Love
1-4 My dear friends, don’t let public opinion influence how you live out our glorious, Christ-originated faith. If a man enters your church wearing an expensive suit, and a street person wearing rags comes in right after him, and you say to the man in the suit, “Sit here, sir; this is the best seat in the house!” and either ignore the street person or say, “Better sit here in the back row,” haven’t you segregated God’s children and proved that you are judges who can’t be trusted?
According to James 2:1, what SHOULD NOT influence how we live or act?
What is public opinion?
Whether someone is rich, poor, smart, disabled, mean or nice, how are we supposed to treat them?
Have you ever been treated unfairly or different from others?
How did it make you feel?
5-7 Listen, dear friends. Isn’t it clear by now that God operates quite differently? He chose the world’s down-and-out as the kingdom’s first citizens, with full rights and privileges. This kingdom is promised to anyone who loves God. And here you are abusing these same citizens! Isn’t it the high and mighty who exploit you, who use the courts to rob you blind? Aren’t they the ones who scorn the new name—“Christian”—used in your baptisms?
Does God follow the world and do things like others (v. 5)?
Who does God love, adore and promise His kingdom to?
James explains that we often treat those God has promised His kingdom to badly. Can you give an example of this from our world or your own life?
8-11 You do well when you complete the Royal Rule of the Scriptures: “Love others as you love yourself.” But if you play up to these so-called important people, you go against the Rule and stand convicted by it. You can’t pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God’s law and ignoring others. The same God who said, “Don’t commit adultery,” also said, “Don’t murder.” If you don’t commit adultery but go ahead and murder, do you think your non-adultery will cancel out your murder? No, you’re a murderer, period.
What does James consider the Royal Rule of the scriptures?
Do we get to pick and choose which of God’s laws we want to follow?
Do you think following some of God’s laws makes it ok to break His other laws?
12-13 Talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free. For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.
What should we expect others to treat us if we treat them badly?
Even when someone is mean to us, God tells us we are still supposed to love them like we love ourselves. Have you ever been nice to someone who was mean to you? Was it difficult or easy for you?
Faith in Action
14-17 Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
What does James tell us we have to add to our words to be a good Christian?
If we made it a math formula, it might look like this: words + actions = Christian
James gives us an example (vs.15-17) of using words with no actions. Can you give an example?
He says, God-t_______ without God-a________ is nonsense. What is nonsense?
18 I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.” Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.
Can you only have actions/works without faith or faith with no action? Why or why not?
When James says faith and works fit together hand in glove – what do you think he means?
Can you give some other examples of how faith and works fit together? (i.e. like peanut butter and jelly)
19-20 Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?
Does calling yourself a Christian make you one? Why or why not? Can you find a scripture from another book of the Bible to support your answer?
If we cut faith and works and separate them what happens? What would it look like if we keep faith and works together? Illustrate what it might look like.
21-24 Wasn’t our ancestor Abraham “made right with God by works” when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn’t it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are “works of faith”? The full meaning of “believe” in the Scripture sentence, “Abraham believed God and was set right with God,” includes his action. It’s that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named “God’s friend.” Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?
In the verses above, James refers back to Abraham and Issac. Look back at Genesis 22 and read the story.
Do you think Abraham’s faith and works were united or severed? Why do you say that?
Based on this story, do you think it will always be easy to keep your faith and works/actions united?
When James says we should have a fruitful faith (v. 24), what do you think he means?
Look up Galatians 5:22-23 and write out the fruits of the spirit that are listed. Star the one you think you do well and circle two that you think you need to work on.
25-26 The same with Rahab, the Jericho harlot. Wasn’t her action in hiding God’s spies and helping them escape—that seamless unity of believing and doing—what counted with God? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.
Rahab was a woman who put her life on the line to protect Christians from soldiers who were after them. If you have time, you might want to read her story with your parents in Joshua 2.
James says that Rahab had the unity of b_________________ and d_________________.
In verse 26, James mentions a corpse. Do you know what that is?
He explains that when you take a spirit from a body it means the person dies. When you separate faith from works you get the same thing. . . a corpse. No, you don’t actually die, but your love, your heart and your faith grow cold to God and your faith suffers.
. . . . . Stay Tuned. . . . Chapter 3 will come out next week . . . .