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.
James is perhaps one of the most profound books in the Bible. It is written to believers and challenges us to understand how to live the Christian life. One may say, “Hold on for a second. I am a believer; I have asked Jesus to forgive me for my sins. Is that not enough?” The answer is yes and no.
First, we must remember that we do not receive salvation because of our works. We are saved by works, but it is the work of Christ. God the Father planned our salvation in the past, but it was accomplished when the Son of God took on flesh and walked this earth. The core of His saving work is the two central events in Jesus’s life—His death and resurrection. His perfectly sinless life is counted as our perfectly sinless life. His death becomes our death, His resurrection our resurrection. Through His works, Christ has accomplished what we could never do for ourselves. When we come to Christ, sincerely confessing our sins and asking Him to save us, He does just that. Through His works, Christ has accomplished what we could never do for ourselves.
But we also need to understand that it is one thing to believe in God and another to obey Him and do what He asks us to do. James makes the stunning observation that the demons believe in God; that is, they know that God exists and even tremble in fear with that knowledge (James 2:19). When James talks about having faith in God, he means trusting God in the manner of our living. Faith is more than a decision to believe; it is a willingness to act.
James is not talking about applying scripture to others. Nor does He want us to underline all the commands in the Bible to pass on to others. He is talking to each one of us. Simply hearing or reading the Bible only gets us so far. We can mark up our Bible, but the question is whether the Bible marks us. If a person thinks he is spiritual just because he hears the Word of God, not because he does the Word, he is deceiving himself. The value of the Bible does not consist merely in knowing it but in obeying it. To be a doer of the Word means to do more, take action, and be proactive. We do this out of gratitude for what Christ has done for us.
The Word of God commands us to take action, but many people seem to be waiting for some great spiritual experience to jumpstart them doing what the Bible tells them to do. Being a doer is taking the Word of God and allowing it to impact our lives, so it changes us. It changes the way we speak, think, and live. It changes the way we treat our spouse. It changes the way we act in business. It changes everything about us. If we are to use the mirror of God’s Word profitably, we must gaze into it carefully and thoughtfully. No glances will do. We must examine our hearts and lives in the light of God’s Word.
- What does it mean to you to be doing good works?
- Why is it so hard to move from a hearer to a doer?
- What can we do to move further into the doers column this week?