Text: James 2:14-26
Big Idea: “A genuine faith in Christ is not only professed in our words, but it is proven in our works.”
1. Faith without action is lifeless and useless. (2:14-19)
James uses the example of a one Christian looking at another Christian in need. Instead of feeding them or giving them clothing, the first Christian says, “Go in peace. Be warm and be filled.” In other words, he says, “Good luck. Hope everything works out for you”, but he does nothing to help. “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (James 2:17)
We can claim to have faith in Christ, but if our lives don’t reflect that through good works – like caring about others – then James says our faith is dead – it is lifeless. My faith, what I say I believe, must be backed up with action. So for the person who trusts in Christ, the question is this – does my inner faith result in an outward response to God, and to others? (See also Matthew 7:18-21) Calling Jesus “Lord” with our lips does not mean He is Lord of our lives.
We need to show our faith by our works. Real faith is backed up with our behavior. If I say I love you, and then treat you with disrespect and contempt, my works have just exposed what’s really in my heart. Our works validate our words.
And here’s our motivation: Because you have received grace, you give grace to others. Knowing that Jesus left the comforts of heaven to come and die for us, we lay down our lives and our agendas and our comfort and submit to His Lordship in our lives.
2. Faith backed by action is trustworthy and complete. (2:20-24)
When someone confesses Christ with their mouths, and the character and grace of Christ is reflected in their lives, that faith is genuine.
When God told Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, Abraham obeyed God. He didn’t just say He trusted in God. He acted on that trust. And God rewarded Abraham’s faith and didn’t let him sacrifice Isaac, but instead blessed him just as He promised.
Rahab the prostitute not only confessed the God of Israel, but she helped God’s people. Her works lined up with her words, making her faith trustworthy and complete. And God saved her.
If our faith is in word only, it is not credible. But when a heart of faith is backed by a life of faith, it becomes credible. It becomes trustworthy and complete.
It’s not about perfection. Only Jesus is perfect. This isn’t about getting it all right. Only Jesus did that. It’s about seeing Jesus and what He did on the cross to pay for my sin, and by grace, trusting Him fully – not just with our words, but with our lives.