Verse of the Day Devotion: James 2:17
“Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” – James 2:17
This is a very important verse that we all need to ensure we apply to our lives. The idea put forth here is that if we only profess faith but do not live it out, then this faith is basically worthless. In verse fourteen, James says, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” James 2:14. In essence, we are simply attempting to convince people through simple words that we are true Christians. In the next two verses, James gives an example of what he is speaking of. “If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” James 2:15-16. What good is telling them to be blessed our brother if we do not do what is necessary to bless them? If someone is hungry and we do not provide them a way to have food, how can we say we care for them? And if someone is without suitable clothing and we do not give them clothing to keep them warm and cover their nakedness, how can we say we love them? Two words, ‘We Cannot’.
And this is the idea regarding faith without works. If we say we love Jesus yet do nothing that shows this to be true, then is it really true? Put another way, if we say we love Jesus yet continue in the ways of the world through sinful ways and activities, then do we really love Jesus? These are valid questions we need to use in examining our walk to ensure the validity of it. And this is the basis that James uses to prove his statement in our focus verse. “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” James 2:17.
In the next verse, he challenges his readers to show their faith. “But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” James 2:18. Works is the proof of our statement regarding faith. Lets look at an example. Two people go to a job interview for a computer programming job. The first one goes to the interview and talks about how he understands all about programming and he will do a good job. Unfortunately, he has never worked in the field and because of this he has shown himself unqualified. The second person brought examples of the work they have done for previous employers and therefore was hired because of the work she had and was doing.
What we say we believe proves very little if anything. “You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?” James 2:19-20. Many people claim to be followers of God and yet live lives that are totally contrary to what they say they believe. He then ends this with an example. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.”. And this last part is found in Genesis 15:6.
It is important that our deeds or works match what we say we believe, for if they do not, it puts into question what we say we believe. We are not saved by works, but it shows the validity of our faith. “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.” James 2:26.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.