Today, we’re going to dive into a thought-provoking topic that gets to the heart of our faith—the relationship between faith and works. But before we get into the theology, let’s chat about something that resonates with the human psyche: our capacity to receive grace.
Part 1: The Rich Young Ruler Syndrome
Think about the Rich Young Ruler who asked, “What must I DO to inherit…?” The emphasis on “I DO” is something many of us can relate to. James addresses this “I DO” mentality, urging us to be more than just hearers but also doers. We need to be slow to anger, take care of the widow, and show no partiality.
Part 2: Faith and Works in Harmony
In James 2:14, we’re confronted with a profound question: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” Growing up near railroad tracks, we learned that when we’re hit by the grace train, we should look different than we did before.
Our faith should change us, leading to works. If we say we’ve met Jesus but nothing in our life has changed, we may need to reflect on the authenticity of our faith. There’s a kind of faith that’s empty—a mere show up, sit in church, and acknowledge Jesus type of faith. The Bible knows nothing of a fruitless faith; faith always leads to action.
Part 3: Genuine Compassion and Actions
James 2:15-16 challenges us with an example: “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?” Well-wishes without tangible actions don’t make a difference. Our job is not to judge why someone is in need but to show compassion and take action.
Remember, God doesn’t need our good works, but people do. That’s why we encourage joining our dream team, because someone out there needs your smile, your help, your encouragement. It’s about making a difference, both inside and outside the church.
Part 4: Faith and Works: Real vs. Fake
James doesn’t set up a faith vs. works scenario. Instead, he distinguishes between real faith and fake faith. It’s not about works saving us but about faith that leads to a transformed life. We can’t have works precede our identity; it’s our identity in Christ that drives our obedience.
Identity precedes activity, and if you think otherwise, that’s a form of dead faith. We’re reminded of Matthew 7:21, where it’s not about attending church or giving but about knowing Him in a relationship.
Conclusion: Faith in Action
In conclusion, faith isn’t about lip service but a transformed lifestyle. It’s about being in a real relationship with God, experiencing His grace, and letting it change us from the inside out. It’s not about trying to earn God’s love but accepting it and letting it lead us to good works. Remember, faith without works is like a body without life. Faith and works go hand in hand, like a living body in harmony with the life within it.
Let’s be doers of the word and not just hearers. The world desperately needs to see our faith in action, and it’s through our works that we can truly be a light in this world. So, let’s carry our faith, hand in hand with our actions, and impact the lives of those around us.
– Pastor Joe