In the beginning of his book, James talked about the approving of our faith. Now he wants to tell us about what true faith really is.
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?
James asks a very important question. What’s the profit in merely talking about faith? True faith is shown by the actions that accompany it. A faith that brings God’s restoration and salvation into someone’s life will cause them to do something.
James uses a great illustration to prove his point.
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
Talk, all by itself, does nothing to bring about a change of circumstances. I wish some Christians would learn this lesson. It seems to me that there are many in the body of Christ under the wrong impression. They think that talking or singing about their faith is the same as experiencing it.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.
1 Corinthians 4:20
Faith that heals, saves, or changes situations is more than just empty talk. The power of God is released when true, tested and approved faith is walked out. James goes as far as to say that if your faith has no actions, then it’s a dead faith.
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder.
James takes us right to the root of the problem. It’s this idea that faith and works are an either/or proposition. That’s a great error that many have fallen into. James has already showed us that faith without works is a dead faith. But what about our works?
What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works.
What we find is that there are two ditches you can get stuck in. The first is faith without works – a dead faith. But we find, through the example of Israel, that there can be works without faith – dead works.
The power of God is manifest when both our faith and actions are working together. That’s where we find signs, wonders and miracles.
Don’t get stalled out in the mire of either dead faith or dead works. Let God’s glory shine through all that you do. In that way your faith and your actions will line up to testify of the goodness of God.
Question: How has your faith in God changed the actions that you do?
© Nick Zaccardi 2017