: James 2:14-26 (Real and Living Faith)
Date: 7th November 2020
In this scripture we learn that real faith is accompanied by action. James was writing to new Christians who had come from a Jewish background who had discovered salvation by faith and freedom from righteousness based on works and rituals. Here, James is warning them against the extreme thinking that they no longer needed to demonstrate their faith by any works or actions. He explains that although it is true that we are saved by grace through our faith in Jesus Christ, the kind of living faith that we have will naturally have works and actions that accompany it. If you have a living faith, you will want to demonstrate it by your actions. Otherwise, it is doubtful if your heart has been truly affected by this faith. If we really believe and understand the extent of God’s love and grace towards us, we will be so overjoyed and grateful that this love will overflow from within our hearts and become apparent in our actions. This love and faith will have transformed us. If this does not happen, it is likely that the “faith’ we profess has not affected our hearts or our lives in any real way and is therefore likely to be “dead” faith.
For example, God commands us to love our neighbour (meaning the people around us). Love is not a fuzzy feeling or a sentiment. It is not just a “like” clicked on someone’s Facebook page or a comment posted on social media. Love requires a series of intentional decisions and actions that demonstrates our love to the other person. Otherwise, it is not real. A person will not believe he is loved if you do not provide encouragement, practical support, investment in time and care, no matter how much claim to love them. This is because there is no demonstrable action to support this claim.
Similarly, you cannot claim to have a living faith unless there is demonstrable evidence of your faith in your actions. Simply saying that you love someone or that you have a faith without doing anything to demonstrate it, is of little value. James puts it very strongly by calling it a “dead” faith. Dead faith has no real value, because even the demons believe there is one God (v19). Therefore, when you see someone who requires practical help, do not offer empty words, but get up from your seat and see how you can actually help them. Telling people who are hungry that you hope they will become well-fed in the future, does no good (v16) and makes you look foolish and uncaring. Look around you and see what needs there are in people around you. Is there someone you should get alongside, to support and encourage them? Does someone else need practical help with transport, baby-sitting or food-shopping? A word of caution here.
Being available to help people does not mean that people should become dependent on you, bully or manipulate you. Helping is not necessarily giving in to what people want form you. Refer to the relationships between Laban and Jacob (Genesis 29:15-28), Aaron and his wife Miriam with Moses (Numbers 12:1-16), Delilah and Samson (Judges 16:15-16). We should ask God for wisdom in all situations. Nevertheless, you may well claim to have faith but other people will see no evidence of this faith unless it is seen in real life by your actions. People will not see God’s love and goodness if we do
not demonstrate it to them.
The next lesson is the importance of acting upon our faith in obedience to God. Abraham is shown here as an example of faith when he offered Isaac his son on the altar, in obedience to God’s command. God saw his faithfulness and sent an angel to stop him. Abraham was blessed by God for his faith, obedience and righteousness (Genesis 22:1-18). Thus, Abraham’s faith was made complete and proven to be true (v22). Similarly, Rahab had faith and chose to help people (v25, Joshua 2:9-13) even though it was risky and might cost her something.
The message in these scriptures is straightforward. Saying that we love God and believe in Him is of no real value if we do not live our lives according to the faith that we profess by demonstrating it in our actions, day by day. Saying that we wish, feel or believe something is not a substitute for taking
Think about how you have shown your faith in action in the past. What motivated you to act and how did you make the decision? What was the outcome of this? Now think about situations in the past when you did not act as you perhaps should have. What stopped you and what do you think you should have done instead? What were the consequences of your inaction?
Are there attitudes, fears, beliefs or other barriers in your heart that may hinder you from obeying God and demonstrating true faith? Ask God to reveal any areas in your heart and life that you need to surrender to Him in order practice a real and living faith.