This Day in History: 0000-08-24
August 24 – James 2:14-26
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions?
Can that kind of faith save anyone?
Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say,
“Good-bye and have a good day; 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, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.”
But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith BY my good deeds.”
You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God.
Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.
How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete.
And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”
He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
Rahab the prostitute is another example.
She was shown to be 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 breath, so also faith is dead without good works.
There has been so much confusion over this passage throughout church history, but I’ve never really understood why. It seems so simple to me: Works are to faith as breath is to the body. Stated another way, works are to salvation as breath is to being.
When people stop breathing, they are dead. Their bodies cease to be alive, but do they stop being bodies? No. They’re still people, they’re just dead people. They have become useless. They are no longer able to serve any purpose in the world. It’s not the breath that makes a body a body, or a person a person. It is only through creation by God that we are made. It is the breath that tells us whether that person, that body is alive or dead.
So it is with works and faith. When Christians no longer have good works to show for their faith, their faith is dead. They’re still Christians, they’re just dead Christians. They have become useless. They are no longer able to serve any purpose in the Kingdom. Works are not what make a person saved. It is only by the grace of God, through faith that we can be saved. But, we can tell whether that faith is alive or dead by the presence or absence of good works.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not at all interested in a dead faith. I don’t want to live a useless life. I know God created me for a purpose, and I want to fulfill it.
What good is it if I walk around asking God to bless people if I’m not willing to step into those situations and be used by God as part of that blessing? What is the point in asking God to bring people to Himself if I’m not using my breath to proclaim His salvation? How could that kind of (dead) faith draw anyone to salvation? I don’t want an incomplete faith that attempts to stand without actions. Instead, I want it to be obvious that I am right with God because my life bears the fruit of His righteousness at work in me.
May the harvest produced from the lives of all His children be rich and bountiful and full of life!