Faith and Works
14My friends, what good is it to say you have faith, when you don't do anything to show you really do have faith? Can this kind of faith save you? 15If you know someone who doesn't have any clothes or food, 16you shouldn't just say, “I hope all goes well for you. I hope you will be warm and have plenty to eat.” What good is it to say this, unless you do something to help? 17Faith that doesn't lead us to do good deeds is all alone and dead!
18Suppose someone disagrees and says, “It is possible to have faith without doing kind deeds.”
I would answer, “Prove that you have faith without doing kind deeds, and I will prove that I have faith by doing them.” 19You surely believe there is only one God. That's fine. Even demons believe this, and it makes them shake with fear.
20Does some stupid person want proof that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Well, our ancestor Abraham pleased God by putting his son Isaac on the altar to sacrifice him. 22Now you see how Abraham's faith and deeds worked together. He proved his faith was real by what he did. 23 This is what the Scriptures mean by saying, “Abraham had faith in God, and God accepted him.” That's how Abraham became God's friend.
24You can now see that we please God by what we do and not only by what we believe. 25 For example, Rahab had been a prostitute. But she pleased God when she welcomed the spies and sent them home by another way.
26Anyone who doesn't breathe is dead, and faith that doesn't do anything is just as dead!
When I lived in Calgary I served for four years as a crisis intervention worker at the Foothills Hospital. During that time I carried a pager and would get ‘buzzed’ when there was a “crisis.” Now a crisis in a hospital is when the very capable staff are facing a situation they could not handle or take the time to handle.
When my buzzer went off it was something unusual, often horrific, or sad. Shootings, drownings, car accidents caused by drunk drivers, family anger and fights in the waiting room, police officers melting down after being in some situation that pushed them over the line. I never knew what I would walk into, but often a corpse was involved. A corpse has the appearance of being a person yet is totally lifeless. It is just a body, a container of sorts, created to hold the living ‘spirit’ of our very being.
“Anyone who doesn’t breathe is dead, and faith that doesn’t do anything is just as dead!” James says this to illustrate how we cannot claim to be a Christ follower and not have it affect our actions and behaviour. If you claim to be a Christian yet there is nothing in your behaviour that shows any Jesus likeness such as care for the poor, righteousness, and good works, then James says you are either stupid or lying.
Our faith, and the works of our lives James links in the same sentence. “Faith that doesn’t lead us to do good deeds is all alone and dead” (v 17)!
I remember looking at those corpses. Lifeless, still, pale and quiet. If you are ‘alive’ in Christ, then do something about it. Act on your belief and faith. Become the hands and feet of Jesus. Do what he would do. Go where he would go. Be loving.
Jesus, Inspire me through your Spirit to act in a way that puts my faith into action. May I, every day, act more and more like you, filled with life, vitality, love and joy – not as one who seems dead.