Daily Devotions

Living Faith Works Out

“So, faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” James 2:17

Living Faith Works Out

“So, faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.” James 2:17

Yes, this is one of the verses in the New Testament which caused Martin Luther to pull out his hair. Compare this verse with the words of St. Paul to the Romans which turned Luther’s life and faith around. “For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.” (3:28)

But perhaps in the context of this letter of James we can understand these words both as a challenge and as an encouragement to keep growing. Can Christians with a living, vital faith really ignores the cries of the neighbor in need? The hungry? The lonely? The abused? Can we who have the love of Jesus inside us not live it out, work it out, shout it out? When two strangers enter the church to worship do we show partiality to the one who appears “well to do”? Do we disregard the one who appears less so? (James 2:2-4) Let it not be so.

Isn’t the truth of this verse a combination of the “law of freedom” and the “new commandment”? Consider the O.A.S.I.S. Food Pantry as our Faith in Action. Think of the outreach of our Vacation Bible School children who offered their gifts and were able to purchase 34 chickens, 5 roosters, 8 pigs, 6 goats and 2 cows to share with people on the other side of the world as putting their faith and love into action. Isn’t the World Hunger Appeal, Disaster Relief, visiting someone in the hospital and praying with a grieving neighbor faith working itself out in love? Isn’t putting quarters in a washer or drier at the laundromat and handing the owner of the clothes a “God loves you and so we” card faith active in love? And when these acts are motivated by God’s free and loving grace, aren’t all these our faithful response?

The parallel to this verse in St. Paul’s letters comes in Philippians 2:12-13. “Work out your salvation in fear and trembling; for it is God Who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

As we “work it out” it will be real people who are the subjects of God’s love who will be touched. Living Faith works out!

Open our hands, Lord. We want to do Your good will! Open our hands, O God, we want to be bringing Your grace and truth and life into the lives of those we meet and know. Open our eyes and ears and hearts and hands.