You Have Faith Without Works? Show Me!

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

James 2:14-17 (NKJV)

One day, as I sat on the train, I eagerly awaited the moment when I would set foot into the door of my warm apartment. It was about nine degrees outside and the wind chill was almost unbearable. I sat still and quiet, anticipating the moment when the wheels would come to a screeching halt. The next stop would be my stop, and I began preparing myself to step into the dreadful cold and freezing winds, by sliding on my gloves and making sure the hood of my coat was nice and secure around my head.

As I stepped off the train, I told the conductor “Good night” as I normally do, but instead of telling me good night in return, he hesitated for a moment, then he looked at me, nodded and said, “Stay warm.” I really didn’t know how to respond to that, so I just kind of smiled and walked off. But as I was walking by, I thought to myself, “Mr. Conductor, unless you’re pocketing warm rays of sunshine and packaged heat to give out, staying warm in this weather is not possible!” I knew he was only trying to be courteous, but unfortunately, his words didn’t keep me warm. I still nearly froze on the walk home.

But as I was struggling to keep my nose from becoming a popsicle, I thought about James 2:14 -17. This passage of scripture reminded me that our words can have the best intentions, but if there is no action behind them, they are useless. Think about it. If you’re drowning and a lifeguard yells to you, “Hang in there! I believe you’re going to make it!” What benefit is that to you if they don’t throw you a life preserver? In the same manner, the Bible lets us know that faith without works is pointless. It’s as good as dead.

Now, we know we are not saved by works, however, what we believe inwardly, is made known by our outward actions. Belief results in action, so we show our faith by our good works (James 2:18). Therefore, if we say we trust God and that we believe His word, yet we choose to not forgive and love others or provide for those who are in need when we are able, then what good is our faith? What purpose does it serve, if any? How does it benefit the Kingdom of God? Isn’t it just a bunch of empty words? If we rebelliously disregard God’s instructions, then it’s safe to say that we don’t really believe, and we are not truly changed.

This is because a regenerated soul naturally results in a changed life. It is transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. If anyone belongs to Christ, he or she becomes a new creation, and the old habits and desires die with the old self (2 Corinthians 5:17). If we tell a thousand people, “I believe in Jesus,” yet we still live a life of willful disobedience to Him, then we are operating in a dead faith and our words are spoken in vain. Not only that, but we are misleading others who may not know God, since as it is commonly stated, “Your life may be the only Bible that some people read.”

The Bible says we will know those who are of God by their fruits, and every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire (Matthew 7:17-20). As true followers of Jesus Christ, may we always continue to strive toward being branches that bear good fruit for the glory of God and to let our good works flourish as a result of the faith that we proclaim.

Suggested Prayer

Lord, help me be a light to others and to bear good fruit for your Kingdom. Let me not speak empty words, but always let my outward actions match what is in my heart and what comes out of my mouth. Give me a faith that people can see!

In Jesus’ name Amen.

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