S54P3 – Linchpins of the faith: necessary works

James 2:19-26

You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

He joined the group because of their common belief.  He always had held that preservation with the future in mind was key to a successful present.  Shortly after he joined, the group began to plan for its first fundraiser.  When asked to help staff the event, he declined.  He was then asked to help with the setup, but he declined this offer as well. It was the same story when he was asked to collect donations or post flyers.  No matter what was asked of him, he had no interest in actually participating in the cause.  For him, joining the group was really about making a statement of his belief.  For the group, however, his statement was hollow and false without his taking action to show what he believed.  The cause could not be sustained by thinkers who refused to be doers.

This scripture highlights a critical point of our faith: having faith in the identity of God is only the beginning.  Those who fell from heaven millennia ago believe that He is who He is.  They tremble and bow at the name of Jesus Christ.  They acknowledge that He is the Son of God. This, however, has no bearing on the destruction that awaits them. Knowing who God is does not save those who acknowledge this fact but do not take action to follow him.  The faith that saves is the one that bears fruit through works.  The purpose of the faith that brings salvation in Jesus Christ is transformation of humankind.  We cannot believe without changing and without affecting change in those around us.  If we profess to have faith in Jesus Christ, the Father and the Holy Spirit, yet we have no works to show, then our faith is futile.

Faith without works is like a husband who says he loves his wife but never treats her lovingly.  The evidence of his love is how he behaves with her.  What he says and what he does shows the truth of the love that he professes.  If we love God, we will obey him.  This is more than simply not sinning.  This includes obeying him in taking action to minister to others, work on our individual relationships with him, and work on our relationships with the Church.  It is expected that we take active steps to mature spiritually over time.  Our faith is not just something we think but is something we practice through what we say and do.  Father, show us where our works are deficient so that we may continue to grow in those areas and add to our faith.