What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:14-26)
The above verses are the latest to slap me in the face. They are verses I have read many times. They are verses that I have heard preached or have preached on myself. But this morning they convict me…
There is a woman in my congregation who I will call J. J is a sweet woman who is not as mentally/emotionally developed as others. Everyday she is at the nursing home to visit her “mommy” and on Sunday she heads up there after worship to have lunch with her. But here’s the thing…someone here at Salem has to give her a ride on Sunday since she can’t drive. My wife is usually the one since she picks up/drops off someone from the nursing home already, but yesterday my wife was gone. I didn’t think about that until J came in for worship and reminded me (as she does every week) that she is going to the nursing home to “have lunch with mommy” and made reference to Connie giving her a ride. When I told her that Connie was gone, J got a little concerned and wondered who was going to give her a ride. I told her not to worry about it (but inside I was hoping she would just ask someone herself).
After worship I spent some time greeting people, listening to some memory work from a confirmation student and cleaning up a little. All I wanted to do after that was go home and rest, but J was still here. So I grudgingly got my car to give her a ride. All the way up to the nursing home she kept telling me how much her and her mom like me. She kept saying “We really like you. You are a good pastor. We hope you stay for a long time”. J was enjoying the time with her pastor and I just wanted to go home.
Now this morning…I read James…
…and James is indeed right…it is not good enough to say we have faith, but it must be shown through our actions. Maybe I was tired. Maybe I just simply let my needs get in the way of J’s needs. Whatever the case, my faith did not shine through to J…even though she would say it did (if she could understand the question). J had no idea what I was thinking and feeling yesterday, but I sure do. So I pray for patience and hope that I will get another chance to show my faith to J. I pray for forgiveness through Jesus Christ my Lord. I pray that when given a chance again, I WILL show my faith through my actions.
I think we all need a dose of James every now and then (I know I do). So take some time right now and read through James. It is a short 5 chapters but ones that pack a punch. But all the while you are reading, remember God’s grace and pray for more opportunities to show your faith to others.