James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? 17 So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
James is making an intentionally inflammatory argument in this passage, but his point is well taken. The Christian faith is never limited to intellectual agreement with certain orthodox understandings. Thinking the right things, without a corresponding change in how one lives, misses the point entirely.
This is a common criticism about Christians. We profess to be about love, peace, and justice – yet our lives often do not reflect this. In fact, sometimes we do just the opposite. There’s a word for this kind of person – hypocrite.
Genuine faith will always be accompanied by obedience.
Granted, no one – and I mean NO ONE – is perfectly obedient. Yet when God lays hold of you on the inside, stuff changes on the outside. It may happen slowly, you may take one step forward then two steps backward, but faith definitely shows up in a person’s life in tangible ways over time.
And this is no small matter because in many parts of our culture expressed profession of one’s faith, especially Christianity, is frowned upon or outright forbidden. Hence, when speaking of one’s faith is prohibited, acting out a life of faith is even more important. Which leads to a couple of questions:
What opportunities will you and I have today to demonstrate faith?
What good works might we do today that will proclaim a gospel of love, grace, and peace – without saying a word?
Lord Jesus, you came into this world to give us new life. Empower us today to demonstrate our faith in acts of kindness, love, mercy, service, and grace. We ask this in your precious name. Amen.