Intro: Through our worship and Bible study lessons, as well as our daily devotionals, we have been looking at the power of faith expressed through genuine love. I have always gained greater knowledge with understanding from visual illustrations; it makes the things being explained more clear for me. So, when Scripture offers me an illustration that can paint a mental picture of faith and love for me, I am able to grab ahold of what is being explained. Did you know genuine faith in Christ works to offer visual illustrations of God’s love?
As a spiritual person being recreated in the image of Christ, how important are your actions? Well, if we are going to be the Chosen—a people of faith—we must put our faith into action in order to reveal the indwelling Christ. This is who we are…the people who have chosen to reveal the presence and character of our living Lord. Jesus is the Living Word of God.
In our passage today, James reminds the early church about doing more than talking about faith; they must illustrate their love for God and their love for others. To put our passage into context, the early Jewish believers in Christ thought it was enough to honor their religious practices and traditions. James wanted them to know it was not their Jewishness that brought them salvation; rather it was their faith in God through acts of loving service. Otherwise, faith is really useless—not going to fulfill God’s expected purpose.
James uses the illustration that our spiritual gifts are not to be separated from our acts of faith. For example, one believer might have a strong gift of faith [trust in God], another believer might have a strong gift of service [mission work], while yet another believer has a strong gift of proclamation [teaching and preaching]. Does that mean the preacher or teacher of faith does not have to share in works of service? Absolutely not; clearly, every believer needs to be illustrating God’s love for the world in tangible ways [works] of service every day. Jesus did and we must!
James 2:14-19 VOICE
14 Brothers and sisters, it doesn’t make any sense to say you have faith and act in a way that denies that faith. Mere talk never gets you very far, and a commitment to Jesus only in words will not save you. 15 It would be like seeing a brother or sister without any clothes out in the cold and begging for food, and 16 saying, “Shalom, friend, you should get inside where it’s warm and eat something,” but doing nothing about his needs—leaving him cold and alone on the street. What good would your words alone do? 17 The same is true with faith. Without actions, faith is useless. By itself, it’s as good as dead. 18 I know what you’re thinking: “OK, you have faith. And I have actions. Now let’s see your faith without works, and I’ll show you a faith that works.”
19 Do you think that just believing there’s one God is going to get you anywhere? The demons believe that, too, and it terrifies them!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the illustrations your Word offers for our lives. We can understand and know your character by spending time reading how you lived and what is important to you. We thank you for our gifts and for the grace and power to operate in them. Help us to use and partner them with acts of love for others each day. You are living within us and are wanting to reach the world around us. May we allow you the honor you are due by obeying and living your Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.