My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it? Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat. What if one of you said, “Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!”? What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs? In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity.
Someone might claim, “You have faith and I have action.” But how can I see your faith apart from your actions? Instead, I’ll show you my faith by putting it into practice in faithful action. It’s good that you believe that God is one. Ha! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble with fear. Are you so slow? Do you need to be shown that faith without actions has no value at all?
Faith without works doesn’t work.
This passage is THE main idea in James. If you say you have faith, but aren’t willing to do anything to help someone in need, what good is that? Your faith is false, nothing but pretty words and Sunday songs – totally divorced from Monday through Saturday reality.
No book of the Bible is more practical or action-oriented than James. It has long been a favorite of Methodists. John Wesley, the founder of our movement, talks in one of his sermons about this point – how right action trumps right belief, every time. He says that you “may be almost as orthodox as the devil … and all the while be as great a stranger as he to the religion of the heart.”
For Pondering & Prayer
Why is faith backed by action even more important today than in years gone by?
Which teaching of Jesus is the hardest for you to live out? Is it forgiveness, loving enemies, caring for the poor, something else?