My brothers and sisters, when you heap attention on some people but ignore others you are acting contrary to the pattern of faithfulness established by our Lord Jesus, the glorious anointed king. 2 Imagine two people coming into your meeting -- one dressed to the nines, with all the designer labels, draped in jewelry. In contrast, the other person who shows up is clearly poor, dressed like a bag lady.
3 Then suppose that you were to give the well-dressed person special attention -- offering her the best seat in the house. But to the bag lady, you say, “If you don’t want to stand you can sit in the back row away from everyone.” 4 If you did that, wouldn't you through your words and actions be saying that some people are better than other people? You’d have become corrupt judges.
5 Listen up, my dear brothers and sisters! God has chosen those whom the world sees as poor to be rich in faith. Aren’t these the very people that God has selected to be the heirs of his kingdom -- the kingdom he promises to those who love him? 6 But through your attitudes and actions you shame the poor people God honors.
Think about it -- the wealthy people are the ones who make your life miserable with all their demands and legal threats. 7 They slander the good name of Jesus -- the name which you embraced at your baptism. How is it that you have become such boot-lickers at the expense of the poor?
8 Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. Focus on keeping the rules of the kingdom -- the royal law expressed no fewer than seven times in scripture -- Love your neighbor with the same energy that you naturally give to loving yourself.
9 When you show favoritism, you are not only sinning but you are by the laws of the kingdom exposed as a lawbreaker. 10 Anyone who commits to keeping all the law but fails in this one point is guilty of breaking all the law. For everything hinges on this one command. 11 God not only told us to refrain from adultery but he also told us to refrain from murder. If you commit murder while refraining from adultery you are still a lawbreaker. 12 So then, walk and talk as someone who expects to be judged according to this standard -- the law that will be your freedom. 13 For if you refuse to let kindness dictate how you treat people don’t expect kindness to dictate how you are judged. On the other hand, if you have been merciful, God will be merciful toward you.
14 My brothers and sisters, what good is it if you say that you have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it?15 Suppose a brother or sister is living on the street without proper clothing or food. 16 And after your church meeting you send that person on their way saying, “Go in peace! I hope you’re warm and well-fed!” What good is it if you don’t actually do something about what they need? 17 Living faith generates kind and merciful responses to the needs of people. Without this kind of follow-through, it’s merely dead faith.