“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
Most of us have probably heard the phrase “faith without works is dead” more than once in our lives. In fact, maybe we have heard it said so many times, the core meaning of the phrase has lost its impact on us.
So what exactly does the phrase mean, and how can we practically apply this to our lives?
It is clear that in James, there is a parallel between faith, works, and what people in society today refer to as humanitarian work. James is making known that our faith can have practical application, and the faith of Jesus Christ compels us to desire to help those in need. This is much more than humanitarian work or a hand out, it is showing the love of God through our faith and putting it into action!
One phrase that particularly stands out is “What good is that?”
From a very practical and spiritual perspective, these four words are very powerful.
If we have faith and yet we do not act on our faith, what is the point of having it? What good is following Jesus if we are not changed and transformed and being a light to others in the world. It may sound extreme, but at the core of who we are, we all want to make a difference in the world. We all want to know that our life is worth something and that we have purpose. So, what good is it if we don’t act on our faith?
If we don’t act, we become stagnant.
The Dead Sea is called the Dead Sea because there is an inlet and no outlet.
Read that sentence once more.
The water is stagnant. It is lifeless. So lifeless in fact that it is called the Dead Sea! We must not become a living imitation of the Dead Sea by acquiring faith and then not putting any works to it! We must not become a person who has only an inlet but no outlet.
The truth is that we become ALIVE when we put works to our faith.
If someone says they believe something, but the way they live is completely contradictory to that belief, it is pretty safe to say that they probably don’t believe that in their soul.
Our belief and faith in the lord is proven by our action.
And this is what causes us to walk the authentic Christian life. When we listen to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to prompt us to act on our faith. This is not something that we need to feel guilt or shame over if we haven’t been living it. It is not something we can expect to achieve perfection in. But take hope in knowing that life is a process and we can all take a step forward today!
Take a moment to listen to the Holy Spirit this week and ask Him what he would have you act on. Step out in faith and do something you didn’t think you had the strength to do! God is with you. He will guide you. And your faith will increase exponentially as you become more of a light in the world around you!
“But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”