Today’s Reading: James 1-5
Today’s Reflection: James 2:16-18
18) 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. 19) You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20) Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless?
James, the (half) brother of Jesus, became one of the most important leaders of the emerging Christian church in the first century AD. In his one letter to the church, James manages to pack in an entire saint’s lifetime of wisdom, touching on a number of critical topics, including the role of trials (James 1:2-4), the truth about temptation (James 1:13-15), the sinfulness of favoritism (James 2:1-13), the importance of watching the words we speak (James 3:3-12), the dangers of worldly desires (James 4:1-10), and today’s topic: the relationship between faith and works.
Now scripture makes it very clear that we are not saved by works of the law.
Romans 3:20 – For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
In fact our salvation, justification and righteousness comes by faith in God through Jesus Christ.
Romans 3:28 – For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
And yet James exhorts the importance of works. This may seem to be a contradiction, but it is not at all. Let’s take a look at the best definition of faith in scripture:
Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Faith involves assurance and conviction. Specifically assurance of things hoped for, but that have not yet arrived. Conviction of things not yet seen, though believed to eventually come to pass. Faith in essence means living as though things that are not, actually are. And this will be made evident in your works.
So if you’re jobless, and God has assured you that He has your financial situation taken care of, you won’t behave stressed out, or take desparate measures to get a hold of money. If you’re single, and God has assured you that the one for you is out there somewhere, you won’t waste your time (or anyone elses) in fruitless relationships with unsuitable partners. Faith changes the way you walk. Faith goes beyond mere belief to have an actual effect on your behaviour.
So examine yourself and ask the difficult question: does the way I live my life reflect what I claim to believe? Is my faith visible in my works? This is important, because we can talk about our faith, but that’s just talk. It is our works that people witness, and it is our witness, our testimony, that will reflect the truth of the God we serve and proclaim the Gospel of His grace through Jesus Christ the Righteous.
Matthew 24:14 – And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.