(Click here for a video of John reading this Catch.)
According to James, your faith in Christ has to be evidenced in your attitudes, your treatment of others, and your overall actions or else you are fooling yourself with your faith. No wonder some of the early fathers of the church didn’t want the Book of James to be in the Bible. Read one way, it can read as a book of works. What it is, in fact, is a book that insists that your faith has to reflect itself in your life in some way. You can’t say you have faith in Christ without your faith showing up in your life in some form.
Here are just a few of the things James says should be in our lives if our faith is real.
If your faith is real …
you will endure hardship with joy;
you will not be blown around by every wind of doctrine;
you will boast in your poverty;
you will not give in to temptation;
you will know you are loved by God;
you will be quick to listen, slow to speak;
you will be slow to anger;
you will be free of filth and evil in your lives;
you will accept the word of God;
you will control your tongue;
you will care for orphans and widows in distress;
you will keep yourselves from being corrupted by the world;
you will not show favoritism to anyone;
you will not discriminate between people or people groups;
you will not dishonor the poor;
you will love your neighbor as yourself;
you will keep the law of God;
you will show mercy to all;
you will do good to others.
That’s just a quick list from the first two chapters of James. Spend more time on it and I bet you can find more.
Now you could approach all these things as a check list of what we must do to be good Christians. Or you could look at this list as a way to please God. Or you could look at it as a way to measure yourself in comparison to other Christians. Or you could use it as a stairway to heaven. But none of these things would be what James is talking about.
What James is saying is that if your faith is real you should see at least some of these things in your life as proof that the Holy Spirit is in you, and that God is making changes in your behavior and your attitudes. It’s a little like what Peter says in 2 Peter 1:8, after listing a number of qualities of faith that God is working into our lives, “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Good deeds are not a means to faith; they are an evidence of faith. But they are nonetheless important, because if you have none of these things in your life, your faith is worthless. So basically these things are like a test of your faith.
So, how are you doing?
Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds. James 2:18
Well said John. This is what faith is. This is how you know if it exists in yourself and others.
Very Good Catch Pastor John!
Back when I was a newer believer, or follower of Jesus the book of James @ first just didn’t make a whole lot of sense b/c of the issue of was I saved b/c of Works or Faith.
That changed 4 me as I have shared this story before, when I was in a Coma, or at the end of it – I didn’t know where I was or what had happened to me, so this one night after trying soooo hard to get out of these straps the had me in. (They had to try me down at night to the bed b/c I’d tried to get out of it & run away and sure enough I’d fall & they the Docs were afraid if I fell & hit my head it may put me back into a deep Coma) So this one night they tied me down pretty tight and I couldn’t get it over my head! So began to cry Lord where am I & what has happened to me!?!
Just then a Song came to mind: (a brother here at the Catch) once told me it was a Russel Taft song: “The chains that seem to bind you will drop helplessly you – When you Praise the Lord.” I remember singing that and my next thought was I don’t know where I am, but I do know you know God, so I’ll take comfort in that! And fell asleep…
My next conscience thought was when my parents walked into my Hospital room & could see I had regained the color in my face and I could hear a few Nurses telling them wait to you see Mark, so this part of what you wrote Pastor John: ” you will endure hardship with joy;” Hit home w/ me & put a few tears rolling down my cheeks, LOL Praise God for His love & Mercy that I know that I know I SURELY DON’T deserve!
PS Ohhh another VERY COOL part of me being a bad car accident & going into a 3 months coma – had a few of my brothers & sisters and their husband & wives became followers of Christ and so did my Dad months latter – My Mom was a Christian woman – she just didn’t call herself a born – again believer…
Mark, you brought back fond memories of my musical walk with the Lord. I remember Russ Taff as a member of The Imperials. I loved their song Old Buddah. I was more familiar with him as a solo artist and met him several times. His anthem, We Will Stand, still brings me hope and encouragement. Our Christian band covered Not Gonna Bow. Thanks for a warm memory of good times.
I cannot say much more than was already said about faith. Except way to go and well, each day in the journey of life you try to do better or at least I try to do better. I made so many mistakes when I was very young and we all make those. But, many of the mistakes i made back then I thank God for strong faith now and glad to keep the worst in the past where it belongs. Take care, and God Bless, everyone.