Be good to all sorts of people
Listen, my Christian friends, you know that our leader Jesus Christ is really great, and you believe in him. So you have to be good to everybody. You have to treat everybody the same way. Suppose one man comes to your meeting wearing really pretty clothes and gold rings on his fingers, and another poor man comes wearing old rubbish clothes. 3-4 Maybe you look at the man with pretty clothes and think to yourself, “He has got a lot of money.” So you are good to him, and you say to him, “Here is a really good seat for you.” But you are hard on the poor man, and you say to him, “You can stand over there,” or you say, “You can sit on the ground.” If you are like that, you make yourself like a bad judge, and that is wrong. Don’t think that way about people. You have to be good to everybody, people that have money, and people that don’t have money.
Listen to me, my good Christian friends. God picks out poor people, and he helps them to trust him properly. He promises to give them a good place in his family. He promises that to everybody that loves him. In the end those poor people will be really rich. So, if you rubbish poor people, you are wrong. Think about this. Who is hard on you? What people take you to court? Do poor people do that, or rich people? Rich people do it. And they talk against Jesus Christ. You belong to Jesus Christ, but they rubbish him.
You know, there is a really important law in God’s book. It says,
“Love other people, just like you love yourself.”
If you do that, you are doing the right thing.* But if you are good to some people but hard on other people, you are doing the wrong thing. You are not following that law. 10 Now think about God’s laws. If you don’t follow all of God’s laws, you are guilty. Suppose one man does everything in those laws except that he breaks one law, that man is guilty. Suppose another man breaks all those laws, he is guilty too. They are both guilty. 11 It is like this. One of God’s laws is,
“Don’t sleep with anyone that is not your wife or your husband, as if you are married to them.”
And another law is,
“Don’t kill anybody.”
Suppose you didn’t sleep with the wrong person, but you did kill somebody, you are guilty anyway, because you didn’t follow all of God’s laws.*
12 God will judge us, and he will use the law that tells us to love other people. So before you say anything, and before you do anything, you have to think about that law from God. That is the law that makes us free so that we can do whatever is right. 13 Later on, God will judge you. And if you don’t feel sorry for other people now, then God will not feel sorry for you. But if you feel sorry for them now, and if you are good to them, God will feel sorry for you later on, when he judges you, and he will be good to you. You see, people that are sorry for other people don’t have to worry about God judging them.
Believe in Jesus and do the right things too
14 My Christian friends, it is no good for you to say that you believe in Jesus Christ if you don’t do the things that he wants you to do. If you reckon you believe, but you don’t do the things he wants, you cant think that God will save you. 15 If there is another Christian that is hungry and needs food, and is cold and needs some clothes, 16 you cant just talk to them and not give them anything. You cant just say, “Don’t worry. I hope you get something to eat, and I hope you get some clothes to wear.” You see, if you don’t do anything to help them, you don’t do any good at all. 17 So if you reckon that you believe in Jesus Christ, but you don’t do the good things that he wants you to do, I reckon your talk isn’t true. It is useless. It will get you nowhere.
18 Maybe you reckon, “Some people can believe in Jesus, and other people can do the good things that Jesus says to do.” I answer you like this, “If you don’t do the things that Jesus says, you cant show me that you believe in him. But whenever I do the good things he tells me to do, I show you that I do believe in him.” 19 You believe that there is only one God. That’s good, but even the bad spirits believe that. They believe that there is only one God, and if they think about him, they get really frightened of him. They get so frightened that they shake.
20-23 If you don’t do the things that Jesus says, it is no good to say that you believe in him. If you don’t know much, and if you want to argue with me, just think about the story of Abraham, our grand-father that lived a long time ago. God told Abraham to give him his son Isaac. To do that, Abraham had to kill Isaac, and burn his body on a table made of stones. Abraham believed that somehow God would make it end up all right, so he started to do that hard thing that God said. He was going to kill Isaac. But just then, God told him to stop. You see, God says this in his book,
“Abraham believed what God said, so God was really happy with him, and told him, ‘You believe me, so now I’m saying you are properly good, like you never did anything wrong.’ ”*
And that is how it happened.
In another place it says that Abraham not only believed God, but he also did that hard thing God told him to do, so Abraham was a friend of God. 24 We can learn from that story about Abraham. If people believe God so much that they do whatever he says, like Abraham did, then God will say they are all right. But he will not say that to people that don’t do what he says, even if they reckon they believe in God.
25 And think about that story about Rahab. She was a bad woman that used to sleep with any man that paid her money, like he was her husband. But one day, Israel’s enemies were looking for 2 men from Israel, and those 2 men asked Rahab to help them. So she hid them in her house until their enemies went past, and then she told them which way to run to get away. She helped those 2 men, so God was happy with her. Later on, a lot of Israel soldiers attacked that town, but God saved Rahab, and they didn’t kill her.*
26 It is like this. If a person’s body doesn’t breathe, it is no good. That person is dead. In the same way, if you say you believe in Jesus, but you don’t do the things God wants you to do, you are no good as a Christian. It is like you are dead.
* 2:8 Leviticus 19:18 * 2:11 Exodus 20:13-14; Deuteronomy 5:17-18 * 2:20-23 Genesis 15:6; 2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8 * 2:25 Joshua 2:1-21; Hebrews 11:31