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.
James 2:14-17 NIV
Don’t read what isn’t here. James is not writing that you must have perfect deeds to be saved. Instead, he simply distinguishes genuine faith from dead faith. The point of this scripture is that faith is more than solely a belief. It’s more than just a concept in your head. Faith is a confidence in truth that leads you to live like it’s true. James describes it as the difference between talking about loving the people without food or clothing and actually loving these people by giving them what they need. Faith that is alive is faith in action.
This distinction is incredibly important because it directly confronts any complacency in us. There is a temptation to become apathetic and disinterested in living out the life Jesus calls us to live because we become comfortable in our circumstances. It’s tempting because living a life of faith entails a level of sacrifice. Loving people in need and following God devotedly will require inconvenient or costly decisions. But remember that Jesus didn’t call us to live a life of talk and theory; he called us to live a life of faith in action.
This passage challenges me. I’m challenged to look at the things that I say I believe and search to see if my actions reflect any real faith. For example, if I actually believe that God cares about the people on this campus that don’t have relationship with Him, then what am I doing to reflect this true belief? How does my life reveal my true faith? For me, it looks like investing in my friends who don’t know Jesus and loving them well. This decision is how belief and action lead to real faith.
God, I want to live a life of real faith. I want to live out what you say is true. Help me to recognize any areas in my life where my words and my actions don’t sync up. Give me the boldness to take a step and live out my faith in you.