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]
Faith and belief are different things. Belief is about assent or agreement; faith is about trust. Belief is all about head-knowledge; faith is about action. Belief says: “Yes, Jesus is the Son of God”. Faith says: “Because Jesus is the Son of God I am going to walk in his footsteps.”
Alister McGrath writes: Faith is not just about believing that a ship exists - it is about stepping into it and entrusting ourselves to it.
This is what James is getting at. True faith will always make a difference to who we are – mere belief will not. As Christians, the practical outworking of our faith ought to point people to our belief even if we don’t have the opportunity to witness verbally.
And belief, by itself, will not save us. James goes on to point out [verse 19] that even demons believe. But they (of course) will not be saved. However, neither will good works save us without belief. Paul makes this plain in Ephesians Chapter 2:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works so that no-one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 [NIV]
Faith must express itself through action – otherwise it is not faith. The callous attitude James illustrates in the passage is not worthy of a follower of Jesus.
Lord Jesus, prompt me today to show someone that I am your disciple through my actions.
m2o Church Rugby - St. Matthew & St. Oswald