A translation of James 2:
My brothers and sisters, do not live out the faith that relates to our glorified Lord Jesus Christ with favoritism. Say a man with a gold ring comes into your synagogue with attractive clothing and a poor person also enters with sordid clothing. Say you look at the one with the attractive clothing and say, "You, sit here in this good seat." Then to the poor person you say, "You, sit there or sit at my feet." Have you not distinguished between yourselves and become evil in your judgment?
Listen, my beloved brothers and sisters, has God not chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the coming kingdom which he promised to those who love him? And yet you have dishonored the poor! Is it not the rich who are oppressing you? Is it not they who are dragging you to court? Is it not they who blaspheme the good name invoked over you in baptism?
Certainly you are doing well if you only satisfy the royal law found in Scripture: "You will love your neighbor as yourself." But if you show favoritism because of wealth, you are sinning and are guilty as a transgressor of the Law.
For whoever keeps the whole Law but ignores one particular area is fully guilty. The God who said, "Do not commit adultery," also said, "Do not murder." So if you do not commit adultery but you murder, you are still a law breaker.
So talk and behave as someone who is going to be judged by the law of freedom. For judgment will come without mercy to a person who does not practice mercy. Mercy takes priority over justice.
Faith and Works
What is the benefit, my brothers and sisters, if some should say that they have faith but do not show it in their deeds? Is it possible that such faith will save them? Say a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily bread. Then say one of you says to them, "Go in peace! Get warm and get fed!" Yet you do not give to them the necessities of the body. What is the benefit? So also faith, if it does not result in action, by itself is a lifeless corpse.
But someone with the right attitude will say, "You have faith, but I have deeds. Show me your faith that does not lead to action. I will show you my faith by my action." You have faith that there is one God? It is good to have that faith! But remember that the demons have that faith too, and yet they are terrified of what is to come for them!
Are you willing to learn, foolish person, that faith that does not lead to action is pointless.
Take Abraham, our father. Was it not his obedient actions that resulted in God's approval when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? See how his faith worked together with his actions? His faith became complete when it led to obedient actions. The Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham had faith in God, and it was reckoned to him as innocence." Thus Scripture calls him a "friend of God." See how a person is justified by actions and not by so called "faith" alone?
Similarly, did not the actions of Rahab the prostitute also result in God's approval, because she welcomed the messengers and sent them out a different way? The bottom line is that just as the body without the spirit is a corpse, so also faith if it does not lead to action is dead.