Show faith by works.
James 2:18-3 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
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.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
3 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. 2 For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. 3 Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. 4 Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. 5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.
See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! 6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. 7 For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. 8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.
13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
In Today’s text it says: Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. There is always a greater accountability which comes with authority. It is important though that we don’t allow the fear of greater accountability or stricter judgment as James says, to keep us from doing what God has called us to do. Later in James 4:13-17 it says: Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.”Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. Sin is not only doing what we know to be wrong, but also it is sin to know what is right and not do it. This of course includes the acts of kindness and service, showing love and compassion to others, but it also applies to the things God has gifted us for and called us to do. It also applies to not heeding the commandments and the commission of Jesus, our Lord.
In Ephesians 4:1-16 Paul says: I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.” … And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ… speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. We should not seek, by our own striving, to become recognized as leaders in the church. But if God has given the gift(s), it is sin not to walk in them. Look at what Paul says the purpose of the gifts are: the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ… according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Each individual using and operating in their God given gifts, the working out of our faith, is essential for the body, Christ’s church to be all that it is supposed to be, to do and accomplish all that He asks and commands. There may indeed be greater accountability, stricter judgment, for those who are called to be leaders of God’s people, but if we, knowing what is right, knowing what God has gifted and called us to, for His purposes, fail to do it, it is sin and the body suffers.
Today’s text began saying: “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 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? It is not enough that we believe in God. The demons also believe. When James says, faith without works is useless, look at those he goes on to mention. It says: 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 which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? The working out of the faith of Abraham and Rahab was not only for their own blessing, but rather the works of their faith was for the blessing of others. So too is the working out of our faith necessary for the blessing of others. John 3:16 says: God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. Believing in Christ and in the finished work of the cross, is the basis of our faith. It is what we need to have faith in for eternal life. Believing in God and in Christ and the cross is not where our faith should end though. Believing in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior should be the beginning of our faith. Along with believing, we also need to do what we know is right. We need to work out our faith. The world needs to see our faith by our works. The church, Christ’s body, needs each one working out their faith, so that it will be built up for the work of service, the commission of Christ.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit I believe. Thank You for the finished work of the cross, the basis of my faith. Thank You also for the gifts You have given and for Your call to use those gifts. May I be faithful to walk in those gifts, doing what I know is right. Amen.