There is a saying that my church’s youth group has “Do work son” or “Do work gir” and it has inspired them to do the work they have been called to do. Like everyday there is that reminder that despite what we do if we do it with the wrong motives then we have done nothing at all. Anytime I get the chance to read through James I remember that there is a connection between my faith and works. The thin red line that connects both is similar to a tightrope and for those who are walking with Christ it isn’t the easiest lesson to remember.
“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.
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 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.” (James 2:14-26 ESV)
Faith Without Works is Dead
It should scare us to our core when we are idle in the Spirit. In our actions our faith is revealed. We do for the things that God calls us to because we have been changed and are no longer ourselves, but are His servants. Have you ever called yourself a servant of Christ as more than a title? Do others see your actions and know Him by what you do? Or is everything you do merely an act? I can do wonderful works for people in this world, but when I leave God out of the equation than all my works are dead. The intertwined rope of both faith and works is what keeps us.
We cannot hope to move with either faith or works alone and James makes it a point to remind us of Abraham and Rahab from the Old Testament who lived by faith and works in order to receive righteousness. Abraham was faithful to do what God had commanded. His son was not his own, but was a gift from God. However, like all things if we are faithful to do what God has called us to do then the reward is far greater than we can imagine. The story is also a reminder that we no longer have to sacrifice ourselves for our sins because that price has already been paid by another. The substitute was Christ.
Serving is never easy and each day that I write more on the subject of servanthood I am reminded of that. Hearing and reading stories about extraordinary people stepping out of their comfort zones to achieve great things for the Lord is encouraging and scary. They are taking their faith and showing it through their works; the mere act of being faithful with God allows Him to use them in ways that will display His glory for the world to see.
See the Servant for a Moment
A flickering light is not of much use in a dark room, but a light burning bright can light the way. Though we must be reminded that the light we live by is not from us, but from Him. We live not for ourselves anymore. We have been crucified and stolen from the doorsteps of death to be brought into new life in Christ. The debt has been paid and the life we now live is brightened each day by the light of Christ. That same light is the light that extends through our faith and brightens our works. As we go about our daily lives others will see us different and be drawn in by that fact. That change they notice may be from our works and in the end the one they should see is Him. Let the world see His face when they look upon your life.