“Faith + Works = Perfect”
by Joe Kim, Graduate Intern, Senior High Pastor @ Presbyterian Church of New Jersey
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God.Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 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. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. 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? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. – James 2:14-26
David Livingstone was a pioneer missionary in Africa. When H.M. Stanley went to Africa in 171 to find and report on him, he spent several months in the missionary’s company, carefully observing the man and his work. Livingstone never spoke to Stanley about spiritual matters, but Livingstone’s love and patient compassion or the African people, was beyond Stanley’s comprehension.
He could not understand how the missionary could have such love for and patience with the backward, pagan people among whom he had so long ministered. Livingstone literally spent himself in untiring service for those whom he had no reason to love except for Christ’s sake.
Stanley wrote in his journal, “When I saw that unwearied patience, that unflagging zeal, and those enlightened sons of Africa, I became a Christian at his side, though he never spoke to me one word.”
David Livingstone had already proven his faith by leaving the comfort of his home and going to Africa to minister to people that would most likely have a hard time understanding him. However, it did not just take faith to fulfill the will that God had for him. He needed to take action, he needed to do good works in order to communicate to these people the love that God has for them. H.M. Stanley was able to witness, first hand, what happens when true faith turns into action.
James also uses another great example. In verses 21-22, James makes a reference to Abraham and how his faith was completed BY his works.
If you were unable to speak a word, how many people would know that you were a Christian?
Father, I pray that you would convict my heart and continue to use the faith that I have declared to spread Your kingdom. I pray that I could do good works, and not just any good works but works that are done because of my faith in You and because it glorifies You. Amen.