My dear brothers and sisters, a how can you claim that you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people more than others?
For instance, suppose someone comes into your meeting b dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in shabby clothes.
If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, "You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor" -- well,
doesn't this discrimination show that you are guided by wrong motives?
Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn't God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren't they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?
And yet, you insult the poor man! Isn't it the rich who oppress you and drag you into court?
Aren't they the ones who slander Jesus Christ, whose noble name you bear?
Yes indeed, it is good when you truly obey our Lord's royal command found in the Scriptures: "Love your neighbor as yourself." c9
But if you pay special attention to the rich, you are committing a sin, for you are guilty of breaking that law.
And the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as the person who has broken all of God's laws.
For the same God who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." d So if you murder someone, you have broken the entire law, even if you do not commit adultery.
So whenever you speak, or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law of love, the law that set you free.
For there will be no mercy for you if you have not been merciful to others. But if you have been merciful, then God's mercy toward you will win out over his judgment against you.
Dear brothers and sisters, what's the use of saying you have faith if you don't prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can't save anyone.
Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing,
and you say, "Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well" -- but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
So you see, it isn't enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn't show itself by good deeds is no faith at all -- it is dead and useless.
Now someone may argue, "Some people have faith; others have good deeds." I say, "I can't see your faith if you don't have good deeds, but I will show you my faith through my good deeds."
Do you still think it's enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror!
Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless?
Don't you remember that our ancestor Abraham was declared right with God because of what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
You see, he was trusting God so much that he was willing to do whatever God told him to do. His faith was made complete by what he did -- by his actions.
And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: "Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous." e He was even called "the friend of God." f24
So you see, we are made right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
Rahab the prostitute is another example of this. She was made right with God by her actions -- when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road.
Just as the body is dead without a spirit, so also faith is dead without good deeds.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)