Take a moment and read James 2:14-26 (I encourage The Message translation for this one).
Do you believe it's possible to have faith without works? Some believe it's works alone that saves a person while others believe it's faith that saves. The Bible makes it clear that it is by our faith that we are saved. For all you works people out there this may be a hard pill to swallow (read my series on Romans 4 for further reading on this subject). However, James 2 shares that faith is not enough in the Christian walk so listen up all you "faith alone" believers!
For James to include this topic in his letter there must have been evidence of people claiming to be believers yet not acting as such in the way they treated others. Because it's mentioned there must be a high value of importance placed on the topic.
Saying you are a believer and acting like one are two different things, and as a result, we must be sure both are evident in our life. Just as you can't be a "good person" and give money to health organizations or serve at a soup kitchen to be saved, you can't be saved and do absolutely nothing for others. Does Jesus not say that when we serve others we are serving him? Compassion and acts of service are essential to our walk with God.
Here's the deal: if you come across someone in true need or have a friend struggling, it's not enough to say you're praying for them and move on. Now I understand there are times when you won't have the means to help them as you'd like; I was that person for much of my cash-strapped twenties. However, there are other ways to serve than with money. And let me be clear that prayer is powerful and necessary! However, let's not get stuck in waving our prayer flag while neglecting to do anything to actually help in the situation.
Take the passage about the Good Samaritan. Religious people passed by the beaten and troubled man and yet they did not stop to help. It was the man who reached out and took care of the victim that was found right. You see, we must be people of action!
What blew my mind was the comparison drawn between people who do not act and demons. Yes, I said demons! James claims that even demons say the believe in God and do no good. Interesting, huh?
James finishes off the chapter by referencing two people in the Bible that exemplified faith and works in harmony. Abraham made his faith visibly known when he placed his son on the altar as instructed. Rahab radiated her belief in God when she took in the Israelite spies. Here we are pointed back to real examples of Old Testament heroes who coupled faith and works.
What does this mean for you and me? It means let's do more others. Let's go out of our way to serve people. Cut a few Starbucks out of your life so that you can sponsor a child. Give an evening to take a friend out and really, truly listen to their heartache. Commit to serving in your local church each and every Sunday. Rally your co-workers to sign a birthday card for a fellow employee to make them feel special. There is so much you can do!
Find ways to express your faith through works. Show compassion to others. I know it won't always be easy or convenient; in fact, compassion is often the very opposite of these two things. However, it's vital to our commission on this earth. Our purpose is to love Jesus, build his kingdom, and serve others. Our two commandments, given by our Lord, are to do these very things.
Go pursue your calling by living out your faith.
- Are you pursuing a life of faith AND works? What could you point to and identify as works, compassion, or acts of service?
- What can you do THIS WEEK to live out this passage?