Faith that works

James 2:14-26

 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 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? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
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? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

Faith.  Works.  How do these two go together? 

This passage can lead to some confusion so let's be clear right from the start -- we cannot be made right with God by doing good works.  Scripture is crystal clear on that truth (see Ephesians 2:8-10, Isaiah 64:6).  So what is James telling us here?


Not that our works justify us before God.

But rather that our works are the evidence that we have faith in God.

Like the green leaves on a tree in the spring aren't what makes the plant alive but it is proof that it is indeed alive.

And "alive" faith produces works - results - that change life for not only those who possess it but also those connected to that possessor.

Results like Mercy Health Center, providing free health care to the poor in our area.  Like Kupendwa, saving lives of women and their babies in Uganda.  Like Sparrows Nest and Downtown Academy and Samaritans Purse.  To name a few.

Results like an encouraging word from the dental office receptionist.  Like extending a helping hand to an acquaintance who needs a job.  Like fostering kids in crisis homes and paying a power bill for a single mom and restoring a fractured relationship.

If we have faith, it will show up in how we live.

And God will be made visible to those around us.

That's faith that works.