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.”
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.
I’ve never been a face-painter. I follow my favorite teams and enjoy watching them play, but if I were to attend a game in person, I wouldn’t paint my face with team colors. Maybe I’d put on a hat or t-shirt, but there’s a line between fan and fanatic that I don’t feel comfortable crossing. Maybe you do, and I’m not here to judge your actions when it comes to cheering for your team. Some of us are just a little more reserved. When it comes to faith, however, we should be ready to express our relationship with Jesus openly and to let what we believe about our Savior impact the choices we make, the words we speak and how we treat people around us. You don’t need to paint your face with Jesus colors or wear a big, shiny cross all the time, but your faith should be evident in the good things you do each day.
James is confronting us with this question: What is the character of your faith? How deep into your heart does your faith reach? Shallow faith simply believes things about God, mimicking what others say without letting truth soak down into the heart. Deep faith, on the other hand, is transformative and grows from a living relationship with the living God. Deep faith changes how we think and how we act. Faith should move us to engage in good deeds, even inspire us to suffer and sacrifice for the sake of serving Christ. A faith that doesn’t transform isn’t worth much, but heart-felt faith always leads to a more Christ-like life. That sort of transformative faith will become evident through the good deeds we accomplish in Jesus’ name.
Now, let’s be clear about this: good deeds are not a substitute for faith. No one can atone for their sin by doing nice things. We are saved by God’s grace offered to us through Jesus Christ who died to wash away the sins of those who come to him in faith. That is the Good News. What James wrote does not contradict the essence of Christian theology. Instead, these words build on Jesus’ teaching about the importance of putting God’s word into practice, loving our neighbors and taking up our cross. Genuine faith leads to Christ-like living, and the good things we do in obedience to Jesus show that our faith is real, heart-felt and transformative. How is your relationship with Jesus changing you? What can you do today to reflect your love for God and your gratitude for the grace of Christ? With James, you can show your faith by your good deeds.
Lord, I praise Your good and holy name. Thank You for saving me through the blood of Jesus and for calling me to share Your love and message with others. Give me strength to serve You with kind words and loving actions that show the world who Jesus is. I pray in His name. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian