In the month of July, we at Restoration Church have been making our way through the book of James during our Sunday morning gatherings. This letter that James wrote to suffering Jewish Christians who were scattered due to persecution is chalked full of simple yet convicting truths. James wrote this letter to give his brothers and sisters in Christ tangible evidence as to whether or not they had a faith that works--which is true faith. He not only gives them these evidences. The truth of God's Word is applicable to all generations. Therefore, even though our circumstances maybe different, these evidences should be true of us as well.
A faith that works? That's got a nice ring to it, but what does that mean? I thought faith was simply a mindset or agreeing that something is or will become true? So what do you mean my faith should work? In his letter, James writes, "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." This is tough to hear. I don't know about you, but when I read or hear statements like this in Scripture, my sinful tendency is to read over it without allowing the Holy Spirit to convict me. It's good to slow down when we read in order to let Scripture truly seep into our hearts. In this statement, James is saying that, if we claim to have placed our faith in Jesus, but do not care about meeting the needs of others, that is not a saving faith. A true faith seeks to meet other's needs.
What are some other evidences of a faith that works?
- A faith that works views trials of all different kinds as an opportunity to increase our joy in Jesus and make us steadfast.
- A faith that works changes our hearts to not only hear and read God's Word. A true faith seeks to obey the Word out of the righteousness that has been provided to us through the gospel. We don't obey it laboring to earn favor from God. Rather, we obey it with joy because of the favor He has shown us through HIs son Jesus.
- A faith that works loves all people no matter the race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or political background.
- If we have a faith that works, we know all too well the power that lies in our tongue. Not only that, but we constantly seek to harness it using it to build up others and speak truth.
- If we have a faith that works, we humbly admit our need for God and our need for each other.
- A working faith leads us to pray consistently in times of sickness and pain as well as in times of happiness and abundance.
In this letter James writes, we see that faith is not merely intellectual. Faith works. But here's the catch: Faith works only if it is placed in Jesus. Only faith in Jesus produces good works such as these listed in this letter. I think we see the opposite happening more often than not. For example, I believe the very reason we're seeing empty resolutions shouted across social media concerning racism like, "We just need to come together!" "No racism! No hate!" is because the source of many people's faith is themselves. We, as the bride of Christ, have the amazing opportunity to step into the various fragments of our broken world such as depression, broken marriages, racism, loss and depravity offering hope that only Jesus can provide. We offer hope because of the good news of the gospel. Because our faith and hope is in Jesus, we have the ability to find joy in suffering, love without hesitation, speak words of truth, live in community with believers and pray no matter the circumstance. Because our faith and hope is in Jesus, we are able to speak the truth of the gospel to a lost and dying world.