Oh, it is easy to brag about how good we are. This is especially true when it comes to comparing ourselves to others. But sometimes that just reveals our selfishness and our laziness.
Continuing on in the book of James and diving into the words written so many years ago that are still applicable in our lives today, we discover that sometimes we aren’t going as far as we think we are.
Take a Leap
Whenever I read these next verses, I always think of a Rich Mullens song called A Screen Door on a Submarine. It is a catchy song that describes having faith without works is like having a screen door on a submarine and that you have to leap out of the boat before you claim that you can walk on water. Check out this song. You’ll enjoy it.
Now on to James…..
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 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.
Sounds foolish doesn’t it? Give some words but no action. Sounds like something no one you know would do, right? Wrong. More Christians act like this scenario than the correct Christ-like way in physically helping others over just throwing “comforting” words out. If you claim to be a follower of Christ and then refuse to help your neighbor who just lost their job, how can anyone really believe that your faith is real? Where is the action of your faith? If you are a follower, you would be following Christ’s commands, right? That means showing love to everyone who needs it.
Believing Isn’t Where We Stop
James goes on to say in verse 18–19 some very powerful words.
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. (NIV)
Wow!!!! How many of us claim to believe in God? According to statistics, millions. According to James, that means nothing. Even the demons should have been counted in that poll. Want to be lumped with them? Saying you believe and believing in God does not make you on the right path. It doesn’t make you any better than the demons. I think that we get so preoccupied whether anyone believes or not that we don’t go beyond that. When someone says that they believe, next look at their works to see the extent of their faith. If you see nothing, there probably is nothing.
Faith Comes With Sacrifice
Verses 20–26 says:
You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (NIV)
Another, WOW! These are powerful examples. Have you offered up anything as precious to you as Isaac was to Abraham? Have you given up your security to risk helping someone? If you haven’t then your faith is dead. These are not my words. These are James’ and since they are a part of scripture they are therefore God-breathed. These are God’s words.
Today take a look at what you do everyday. How much of your actions actually show your faith? More than likely we’ll be ashamed and shocked by the end of the day. Let’s change that. Let’s begin to put into practice what our faith teaches. How? By reading the word, fellowshiping, and making sure we follow what it says.