James 2: 14-25
14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?
15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.
16 If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?
17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?
21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.
23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called God's friend.
24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?
26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
I only have one brother and no sisters. I'm four years older than my brother and by the time he came along I was already going to kindercare in Germany and to be honest, pictures and examples that my mother has told me about tell me that I quickly established myself as little mother and set myself up to be the boss of Billy. He is a most kind and humble man and while flawed as we all are, I admire him in so many ways. However, I tell him all the time I made him what he is today since I played little mother to him for many years. My brother and I are so different, yet we have so many of the same traits, values, hopes and desires. We share a common bond built on our heritage, culture and love for each other as siblings.
When I think about Jesus and his brothers and sisters, I wonder about what their relationship might have been. James, the brother of Jesus, wrote the book of James and I am sure that he too shared a common bond built on their heritage, culture and love for each other as siblings. At the same time, James gives us direct, strong and no beating around the bush instructions on how to live as a Christians, unlike Jesus who teaches us with parables and tender words of comfort, hope and joy so many times. Of course, these words are just my thoughts on how I think these two men might have been different personality wise. I'm also aware that different religions believe different things about Jesus and his earthly family. I tend to think of our differences on terms like the man who had one natural son and one adopted. In an interview he said, "Of my two sons, I can't remember which one is adopted and which one is natural born." Thank God that when we accept Jesus Christ as our savior, we become children of God and are adopted into His family, warts and all.
In these verses this morning I'm reminded that it is not enough to have faith, but we must diligently also show our faith by the deeds we do. Matthew Henry says it this way, "The works James requires are not done apart from faith but done in faith, not done instead of faith but done because of faith. Faith is the underlying stance of Christian life; deeds are the way of life; becoming mature and complete is the goal of Christian life."
The book of James wasn't written for those that had not yet accepted Jesus as their personal savior. The book of James was written for those of us that have accepted Jesus as our personal savior to charge us to act on our faith and understand it's importance. By acting on our faith, others will see Jesus in us and also want to follow Him...which is the commandment we have been given to go out and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything Jesus has commanded as it says in Matthew 28: 19.
Today's verses also cut to my very core. James has a way of doing that, pushing me act more on my faith so my prayer today will be that I will find ways to use my resources, time and talents to show my faith by the deeds I do.
In the spirit of doing a good deed, come let me pour you some tea from a tea set given to me by my Aunt Julia. She gave me the teapot and I've searched antique shops to find cups and saucers that match. The teapot is about the size of a small apple and the cup holds about two tablespoons of liquid. I love them and always think about her when I hold them in my hands. Enjoy the tea and enjoy your day!