PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• The more I read the book of James, the more I like him. Talk about a call-it-like-you-see-it guy! His straight shooter style may come across as harsh, but his heart is clearly full of longing compassion to bring others to Jesus and the Throne of Grace.
In James 2:20-26, James makes a solid argument about the importance of faith going hand-in-hand with works. He starts with an in-your-face statement that says, “Senseless person! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?” (CSB).
Clearly, he was a tad frustrated with his reader.
Let’s focus on the question though. It’s a valid one. “Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?”
This question becomes complicated when you look at it superficially. It seems to contradict what Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Yet his argument isn’t a contradiction. It’s a different perspective. Our salvation isn’t based on our good works, but our faith demands that we live it out in action.
James cited the examples of Abraham and Rahab as examples of faith and works going hand-in-hand. I love that he gave us a woman as an example, albeit, in his call-a-spade-a-spade way, he still identified her as a prostitute. Nevertheless, he could have pulled other examples of faith and works going together, but he gave us these two. He showed us solid examples of how faith and works go together.
In verse 24, it says, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone” (CSB). Abraham and Rahab’s legacies endured (and continue to endure) because their faith was strengthened by their actions.
People are really good at framing themselves in a good light. We want others to see us with our best foot forward. We don’t like to admit our faults. We want our lip service to tell our story, but our truth is told best through our actions. After all, if we want our family and friends to believe that we love them, then we treat them kindly with actions.
If we want to proclaim ourselves to be Christians, we have to be Christ-like in what we do. That means mirroring our lives to be a reflection of Jesus. We’re not going to be very good at it on our own. But thankfully, we have the Holy Spirit who will guide and direct us. It’s through His direction that we become more like Christ. And as our transformation continues, our faith becomes stronger and more evident.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for living a perfect life. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you live your faith boldly and to demonstrate it with your works—not because you are earning anything, but because you want to be more like Christ.