“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 NLT).
Some people think faith is a strong belief in something or someone. Some may argue that it is a concept or a part of theology. Faith is so much more than any of that. The second chapter of James teaches us that real faith transforms lives. 2 Corinthians 5:7 is essential in this regard because it tells us, “For we live by faith, not by sight.” Faith is an essential part of our very life as a Christian.
James 2:18 reads, “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 is describing a person who thinks faith can be separated from works (actions). This is impossible because our faith and our deeds are inseparable.
James is essentially saying if you claim to be a Christian, then your actions should support that faith and be visible for others to see. He is passionate about faith because his life was transformed by his faith. His faith in God was manifested by his service to God and others. A fruit of our faith today should also be our works.
In other words, our works are a natural product from our faith in God and are not done in an attempt to gain favor with God. Our works are not a means of salvation. Jesus is the only path to salvation. Isaiah 64:6 tells us that our good deeds are like filthy rags. This means that our attempts to be “good” are nothing compared to the true goodness of God because we are all sinners and fall short of His glory.
It is good and helpful to talk about our faith and use it to encourage others. Faith cannot end with words. Our words are important but must be accompanied by action. Mother Teresa once said, “The world can be changed by your example, not by your opinions.”
So you may be wondering what does all this talk have to do with the title of this blog? Faith is very similar to love in one aspect. Love isn’t visible unless you are able to see it in action. In the same way, the only way you know if someone has real faith is by looking at how they live. Faith and love are not ideas, emotions, or theological concepts. They are actions.
Gulf South Men is a regional ministry coming along side churches and men’s ministries by offering Education, Training, Resources, Men’s Events and Mentoring to help churches build effective men’s ministry and make disciples for Christ.
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Prayer: Dear God, Forgive us for failing to claim our true identity. Help us to understand that our true identity is in You and not in anything of this earth. Amen.
Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He is a Past President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.