Updated: Jan 4, 2020
James 2:14–17 (NKJV)
14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Do you have faith in the Lord? The question is what are we doing with that faith? Because as a Christian, we should be opening ourselves up to the works of the Lord. To me, this is one of the most exciting parts of being a child of God. God, who could do any of this on His own, allows us to take part in His masterful plan! But, we have to be careful while examining scripture like this.
The new Jewish believers had just come out of a works-centered religion and were now enjoying salvation through faith. However, they began to get too far away from works. James offered a friendly reminder, what does it profit? James is telling us that we should be helping out our brothers and sisters if we have the ability to. We most certainly should be praying for their situation but if we have the chance to help, we should be doing so. How many times do we offer to pray for someone later, knowing full well that we have the means to assist in the situation right then and there?
I remember one time, I pulled into a parking spot outside a restaurant and there was a woman visibly upset sitting on the curb. We were going to meet as a men’s group there for some fellowship and I knew the Lord was pressing this situation on my heart. I could almost hear Him saying, “go share the hope with her”. I wish I could tell you that I did as the Lord requested, but I thought the best thing to do would be to pray for her. I had the words that could have helped but decided to pray about the situation later instead. Thankfully that same night the Lord gave me the opportunity to buy another woman’s groceries and I did not fail that time.
James is not in contradiction with Paul who in Ephesians 2:9 says… not of works, lest anyone should boast. Paul is absolutely correct in saying by faith we are saved, after all, is there any work we could do that would be “good” enough to cover our sins? Of course not. James is not bringing in the idea that we can be saved by works, instead, he is saying that if we have saving faith, that should push us toward certain works.
What kind of faith do you have today? If you come across a brother or sister in need today, are you going to offer help or prayer later? Jesus paid an unfathomable price on the cross, the least we can do is provide a little assistance to His children.
John 15:12 (NIV)
12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
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