Jas 2:14-17 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”
James has repeatedly stressed in this epistle his kinship with his audience. It is important that we remember that the whole counsel of God is for us. Both reproof and exhortation belong to us. The promises in the scripture and the warnings in the scripture are equally ours. Blessing and chastening both belong to the children of God. We are not free to pick and choose the parts that suit us and ignore the rest, nor can we assume that the “good parts” are addressed to us and the “hard parts” are addressed to everyone else. We are brothers and sisters living in the same household of God.
Now comes a question we must all ask ourselves; where is the benefit in simply talking about our faith. We can say we believe (have faith) Jesus died for our sins, but if that acknowledgement does not affect how we live (manifest in what we do) then it is meaningless in the gospel kingdom. We know that the blood of Jesus Christ has saved us eternally regardless of what we believe about it or how we act. However, it is in our actions that men will truly see the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Having an intellectual belief in the word of God is of little benefit if it does not affect how we live and how we treat others. There is no daily deliverance (saving) in merely acknowledging with the mind the truth of God’s word. True acknowledgement of God’s word affects our behavior for His glory and the good of His kingdom here. If we see a brother or sister in distress and do not relieve that distress if we have the means to do so, then we have no right to claim that we have faith. Faith is not a mindset; faith is putting action to the grace of God in our lives.
If we truly trust God for our daily bread, then we will not be afraid to share what we have today with a brother or sister in need. Our confidence in God says that we know He will provide for tomorrow when it comes, so we will divide a portion to those He brings to us who are in need today. We will do so in a way that gives God honor and glory. We will do so in a way that testifies to the life of Jesus Christ in our mortal bodies. We will do so in a way that displays the power of the Holy Ghost in our lives. We will do and not just say.
James’ witness here is very simple; without works, faith is dead. Action is a necessary companion to faith, else faith dies alone. There is no advantage to faith if it is not made manifest by actions. If all we do is talk about our faith, then we might as well not have faith. A faith that is only manifested by words is dead; it serves no purpose. That which is dead decays: its form changes to something not pleasant to look upon and it has a bad odor. Faith without works becomes hypocrisy.
Faith with works is profitable because is comforts our brothers and sisters who are in distress and gives glory to God. Faith with works is fat and well-watered: it has the health of the countenance of God. It is profitable to the kingdom of God, and it brings to our hearts joy and rejoicing in the Lord. True faith (faith with action) is necessary for us to be able to please the God of all grace and glory (Heb 11:6).
May God bless us to prove our faith by our works, always looking to Him to labor according to His holy will!