In the last half of chapter 2 of James some pretty bold statements are made. These are the kind of statements that make me squirm in my seat. James asks the question, “Can faith without deeds (also translated works) save you?” Then he goes on to say that faith without works is useless and dead. Ouch! Never in the passage does he say we are saved by what we do. What he does say is that saving faith (in Christ Our Savior) will naturally cause us to demonstrate that faith by what we do. Here’s a couple of examples…
I can’t profess to be a vegan while tearing into a turkey leg. I can’t profess to be a marathon runner, yet have never actually run in a marathon. Same goes for professing faith in Jesus. It doesn’t make sense to call myself a Christian and live my old life.
What this passage is not saying…
- This is not a call to board a plane to Africa to become a missionary. Works are not classified by size.
- This is not a call to earn or maintain your salvation by your works. Christ+nothing else= Salvation
What this passage is saying…
- Works/deeds naturally follow faith.
- Faith and works/deeds go hand-in-hand.
So what are works/deeds?
I decided to look up ‘deeds’. Deeds is defined as an action that is performed intentionally or consciously. I like that. It’s a choice(more on that here) we make. It is necessary to be intentional in our walk with God. This means it’s also necessary to be intentional in demonstrating our faith through deeds (also translated works).
Deeds or good works include anything that glorifies God. Anything. That could be sharing the gospel, trusting God or simply obeying His Word. Deeds could include prayer or worship. Even the tiniest acts of obedience as I care for my family glorifies God. When I’m flipping dirty socks right side out before I throw them into the washing machine, I’m glorifying God. It’s easy to buy into the lie that these deeds must be huge. When we buy into that lie, we give up and do nothing.
So before you board a plane to some unknown country to spread the gospel, think smaller about deeds.
Here’s a few examples of intentionally taking action that demonstrates my faith.
- I don’t always agree with my husband (gasp!), but I choose to respect him (1 Peter 3:1) and step back so he can lead (Ephesians 5:22-23).
- I don’t always feel like being patient with my children, but I choose to be slow to speak (James 1:19) and demonstrate gentleness (Galatians 5: 22-23).
- When I’ve been hurt by someone I choose to pray for them (Matthew 5:44) and not talk bad about them (Romans 12:14) to others.
The truth is I don’t always feel like doing things God’s way but I choose to do things the way He calls me to as a demonstration of my faith. I mess up…a lot. I’d still rather try and fail then have what James calls “useless and dead faith”.
What are some simple ways you can demonstrate faith by your deeds? We all have to start somewhere…
Do not despise this small beginning, for the eyes of the Lord rejoice to see the work begin, ~Zechariah 4:10a (TLB)