Monday 8 July 2019
Genuine Faith (Part 1)
James 2:14-20 (New Living Translation)
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
The apostle James highlights two kinds of faith here; faith without deeds and faith accompanied by good deeds. From the passage James makes us understand that genuine faith would naturally produce good deeds and good deeds reveal and validate the faith of a believer to the needy world. That is, faith and good deeds complement each other.
Jesus said in Mathew 5:16 “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your father which is in heaven”. The evidence of our faith in Christ is made known through the good ‘fruit’ produced – the good works resulting from our faith. In other words, as an orange tree produces orange fruit, so must our faith in Christ produce good works – NOT words of, but true acts of love, kindness, forgiveness, charity, compassion, etc.
So, James poses a question: can faith without works save anyone? Well, we learn from Galatians 2:16 that “a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ”. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. Our works do not earn us our salvation; it is only by grace through faith.
However, James is not contradicting the aforementioned Scripture from Apostle Paul at all. Rather, he admonishes us that, our faith should reveal in us the nature of God, which should move us to act with compassion, forgiveness and love towards others.
Peter in 2 Peter 2:3-11 puts it this way: since we participate in the divine nature of God through Christ, we must endeavour to add to our faith goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. He adds that those who have these qualities are effective and productive in Jesus Christ.
However, those without these works are ‘near-sighted’ and ‘blind’. In other words, Faith and good works are NOT mutually exclusive; to have faith is to walk with God and to walk with God is to walk in love, because God is Love (1 John 4:7-12).
2 Peter 1:3-11
1 John 4:7-12
Eric K Mensah – Leadership Team (Sawyers Church)