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. James 2:18 ESV
James explains how we should live as Christians and gives evidences of the faith we have in Jesus. As the half brother of Jesus, he witnessed first hand how Jesus lived, yet growing up, James did not believe Jesus to be God’s Son until after His death and resurrection. (John 7:5… Acts 1:14) When you read James, remember Jesus lived perfectly the teaching and instructions as written by James. How else could James have written so clearly how we should conduct ourselves in faith? He wrote this not by his own authority, but by the example he, no doubt, witnessed in Jesus. This is a book not written to a specific church but rather to all Christians. The book of James is just as applicable today as when he penned this letter to Christians of his day. While works in the Christian’s life is important, remember works do not and cannot save you; for we are saved by grace. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Works by faith give evidence of the truth and results of grace that you have experienced in Christ Jesus. Good works by those who have experienced grace are acts of love, not works to gain salvation. Salvation is only possible in the person of Jesus Christ alone. (Acts 4:12)
ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS:
While words are important, and much is said by James concerning the tongue, actions generally speak what you really believe. Words can inform people of your knowledge or lack of it, but actions inform people what you really believe. Have you ever heard a person say, “I know I shouldn’t do _______ but…. then they do it. Knowledge of right and wrong never gives evidence of change in a persons life, but living rightly or wrongly gives evidence of what is really true in your life.
FAITH WITHOUT WORKS:
Many today say they have faith or that they are Christians. The thought comes to mind, “How should this affect those in this world?”. I heard an illustration this week that puts this in perspective. I did not check these numbers to see if they were correct but for the sake of illustration it makes the point. About twenty five percent of people say they are evangelical Christians. In comparison this should be like putting one fourth a pound of salt into a pound of hamburger. How would that affect the hamburger? How is it possible for twenty five percent of people to be Christians and yet not have a MAJOR affect upon the world? You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and be trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.. In the same way, let you light shine before others, so that they may SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS and GIVE GLORY TO YOUR FATHER WHO IS IN HEAVEN. Matthew 5:13-16 ESV Our works should not be for our glory but to point people to the God we love who has saved us by his grace and give HIM glory.
HOW CAN WE CHANGE?
Read the Bible not just as a book of information but as an instruction manual for living. But be doers of the word and not hearers only. James 1:22 ESV When reading the Bible and seeing where you may fall short in so many ways, don’t be overwhelmed. Many people say, “ I just can’t do this; no one can.” That would be a correct statement, and that is why we are saved by grace and not works. I have heard people say after eating a large plate of food, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.” So how did they do it? ….One bite at a time. The process of growing as a Christian is called sanctification. This is a person who is not what they were but is growing and is not yet what they will be. Growing as a Christian is a process of surrender and loving God more everyday. When Jesus was asked, “Teacher what is the greatest commandment of the law?” Matthew 22:36 ESV Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law of the Prophets.” Matthews 22:37-40 ESV We work not for salvation but in order to show our love for God. The work of salvation was done on the cross, and trust me, neither you nor anyone else will do a work that is greater than this. God became flesh, lived, died, and rose again defeating the consequence of sin….Death. I was once asked, “What’s the big deal? He was God; of course, he could raise from the dead”…. after much thought to the question, my answer was and is ….YOU are the deal. He did it for you… willingly. He didn’t have to do it …. He was God. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV ….. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 ESV
One final thought; what or who you love will determine how you live. Good ….. or ….. Bad. My prayer for myself and for all who read this is that we would choose good…. that we will always choose God for He chose us. He became like us, yet without sin, so that we could become like Him who knows no sin. (2 Corinthians 5:21) It is grace and mercy which makes the gospel, the gospel of GOOD NEWS.
Because of His Grace ~ Pastor David