But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God.
From childhood through adolescence to adulthood, he was guided and mentored by parents, teachers, clergy, and a whole host of other leaders. One leader in particular regularly challenged him to analyze his perspective on many things. This person also encouraged him to step outside his comfort zone and take on projects he thought he was not capable of completing. Their conversations often followed the same pattern. This youth leader would tell him he was good enough and smart enough to finish the task. When asked, he would then confess his belief in that encouragement and agree that he could get it done. That belief, however, stopped right there without any actual steps taken. It was an empty thought that produced no action, a faith dead on arrival.
Through his word, God challenges our faith every day. We constantly are asked to reevaluate the way we see the world and what we think of its patterns and standards because God’s ways are higher and better. Following him is such a change from what we grow accustomed to in this world that we have no choice but to decide every day what we believe. Those confessions of faith, however, are not enough if they only remain in our hearts and minds. Here, the word tells us that true faith produces works. What we believe should be evidenced by what we do and say. Our faith is shown in what it produces in our lives. If we say that we believe the precepts of God but then live in a way that is completely at odds with them, then that faith does not actually exist.
Faith is dynamic, not static. Our beliefs are not merely thoughts and ideas which only occupy space within us. Our beliefs serve a practical purpose and beg for a response from us. If we let our faith actually do its work within us, then that faith pours forth from us as good works. We can say that faith is the seed of works. If we do not water and nurture that seed, or if it is planted in substandard soil, it will not grow as it should. That seed desires to grow and provide a harvest of good works. The harvest lets us know that the seed was cared for. It is not that faith dies when works do not accompany it. It is that the lack of works proves that one’s faith is dead. Father, thank You for the works that faith produces in us, and keep us yielded to its proper process.