In today’s society, it seems to be the popular thing to say that you’re a christian, yet live a lifestyle totally averse to what the Bible teaches. I’m guilty of this myself, telling others I’m saved by Gods grace and how much I love Him, yet if I was unable to speak, most of the time you couldn’t tell that from my actions. One of my favorite books of the Bible is James, most for the practical knowledge he gives, but also some clarification on whether works, faith, or both get us into Heaven! Some of the more poignant verses from James refer to this dilemma head on.
What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. (James 2:14-17)
This is a simple example of his point, but it can apply to today just as easily. How often do we pass by the homeless, or not hold the door open for those behind us, or spend time with the widows and the orphans as we’re commanded? I know I’m guilty of all those things at times, and it’s easy to fall back on our faith covers all attitude. We weren’t put on this earth to live in solitude and read our bibles and keep it to ourselves! There are times for that and by itself it isn’t a bad thing at all, it’s a necessary foundation for any growing believer. Christ called us to preach the gospel to all the nations, whether that means you being called to another city, country, or right next door, and sometimes even in your own household! We all need encouragement, we all sin and fall short, but when we are focused on Christ, we see outside of our own shallow lives and see that there is so much pain and hurting in those around us, sometimes all they need is a smile or a kind word. Here is the rest of the passage in James.
But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. (James 2:18-26)
I would encourage you to check out the rest of James, it’s a few short chapters, will only take up 20-30 minutes of your time, but it has amazing amounts of wise words which apply to our lives today! The important thing to remember is that you still need faith first, and then through your works and the way you live others will see your faith is alive! I’d challenge you to think today of someone in your life whom you may not put much thought into, but might be struggling through a rough patch in their life or is lonely, and pray for them or maybe even give them a call or visit! But watch out you’re not doing these acts for vain reasons, the Lord has warned against that in Matthew.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-4)
As always, I’d encourage you to read your Bible daily, and spend time with your creator in prayer and worship!
I have been encouraged and challenged by this song lately, and I just want to share it with you. It’s catered more towards fathers and husbands so I apologize if you don’t fall into that category, but it’s still worth listening to and maybe the Lord will use it to speak to you.