Daily Devotional - 11 August 2020
“Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works” (James 2:26).
In 2018, 55% of Canadians identified themselves as Christians. A solid one in every two people believe in God. The stats sound wonderful, until we view it through our everyday context. I would almost guarantee that while one in two Canadians may say they believe in the existence of God, it would be a very different picture if we asked all the self-identified ‘Christians’ if they had a relationship with this God they believe in. A relationship with God should change us–our actions, words and thoughts. Do we follow and obey Christ, as the name implies? If not, James has a very strong warning for us.
Many people in the early church believed in God, but did not see a need to change how they lived. After all you can’t earn your way to heaven; doesn’t the idea of having to do good things to demonstrate your faith teach that your relationship with God–forgiveness, salvation, eternity–needs to be earned? Not according to James. He equated a faith in God–self-identification with Christ–as being dead if there was no proof of life. Think of it this way. If you came across an unresponsive person lying on the ground what is one of the first things you should do? Check for a pulse. When it comes to faith, a belief in God is just a body lying on the ground unless it has the heartbeat of good works pulsing through it.
James challenges the believers; what good are your nice sentiments in the face of others’ needs? “Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do” (James 2:15-16)? Absolutely none! In fact, all your fine words without the provision for people’s tangible needs may work as a detriment to their accepting that your faith has any meaning at all. Nice sentiments unaccompanied by good deeds are nothing but hot air.
If anyone is still left unconvinced, James sarcastically puts it another way, “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless” (James 2:19-20)? Mere belief doesn’t buy the demons any grace from God, so why do we think it is any different for us? Unlike the disobedient angels, our faith should motivate us to do work to please God because of His great love for us–not leave us trembling in terror ...or feeling smugly secure!
We are to obey to ‘royal law’–coming straight from the King himself–to “love your neighbor as yourself” (James 2:8). James cannot say it enough, “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless” (James 2:17). His challenge for all of us who self-identify as Christians is to prove that our faith has a heartbeat. What good work will you do today?
~ Pastor Jane
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!