So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 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 2:17–18 (ESV)
The letter of James packs a punch, especially when it comes to challenging Christians to live out their faith. And James doesn’t pull any punches, either. In chapter one, he tells his audience to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only.” He continues along these lines in chapter two.
In today’s text, James offers a corrective for anyone who thinks that they can claim faith in Jesus without actually living any kind of Christian lifestyle. He starts the section in verse 14 with two rhetorical questions: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” Implied answer: “No.” What James is saying is that a person who has saving faith—the belief in Jesus that results in salvation—that person will be transformed. They will live out their faith. Perfectly? Of course not. But will there be evidence—or to use one of Jesus’ own words for it, “fruit”—of faith? Yes. And so James can say that faith without works is dead, as well as “I will show you my faith by my works.”
How is your Christian faith working itself out in your life? Perhaps today’s devotional is a fresh call from God to live out your faith, to ‘act’ on what you know is right and true. Perhaps it is a warning against complacency and mediocrity or to repent from a specific sin. Or maybe God could be offering an opportunity to you or someone else in your life—a student, a family member, or a church member with whom you can share this message—to take that first step of the Christian life and place your faith in Jesus. This week, let us ‘show’ others our faith by being ‘doers of the word’.