Faith ____ Works

James 2

James 2 14 NIV

In Chapter two of James he continues to tell us that we need that Humble Pride and we are not to judge others in partiality. We must not look at others and decide that God isn’t going to use them because we don’t like the way they look. Just as we may turn away from a book when the cover is worn and frayed, we occasionally turn away from people when we see they are worn and frayed. The thing we must remember is sometimes the books, and people, that are worn the most are worn from use not from neglect. When we look at someone we should seek the potential that our LORD sees. When Samuel went to anoint the king he would have overlooked David but God was looking at David’s heart.

In the same way that we tend to judge by what we see on the surface James tells us that our faith is to be more than mere words.

When you look at Faith ______ Works, what would you place in that blank?

  • Faith or works
  • Faith VS. works
  • Faith and works

We know that we are cleansed of our sins by faith (not by works), so why would James ask in 2:14, “Can faith with no works save you?” Do Paul and James have a long-standing disagreement on this matter? No, they agree beautifully! James is not saying that we are saved by our works but that our works are evidence of our faith. In verses 15 and 16 he says that empty words mean nothing. For example, if I simply say I am feeding my dogs regularly, yet I give them no food; eventually they starve. They will not survive on my words or good intentions alone. The same is true of our faith. Luke just told us last week of that “great cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews 11 that were all shown to be faithful and that faith was made evident in the works they did for God.

James says if we have true faith it will be shown by our actions! He says in verse 19 that if all it took was a belief in the truth that God is one then even the demons would be okay, because they believe and shudder. Although they believe, their actions and their allegiance are not inline with God’s plan. They understand truth but choose to do their own thing. We need to understand truth AND let that truth move us to action for God!

James says that we need a Faith that Works!

If our faith is not causing us to work for God we must ask ourselves, “Do I truly have faith, or do I have empty words?”

-Bill Dunn

 

Oxymorons

James 1

James 1 9 (1)

I am a dad and as such enjoy the occasional (or perhaps not so occasional) dad joke. I also like to see the look on someone’s face as they decipher the unexpected oxymoron. Some of these are so common that we don’t even realize when we say them. Others take a moment to realize what has been said.

Here are some examples:

  • Act naturally – Is it really natural if it is an act, or is it natural to act, or … WHAT?
  • Random order – Which is it random or in order?
  • Original copy – By definition if it is a copy it cannot be the original.
  • Only Choice – If it is the only one it is not a choice.
  • Jumbo Shrimp – Enough said

I am clearly confused by all of these oxymorons.

James, although known to be quite practical in his writing starts out using a couple of oxymorons.

The first he uses is in the second verse, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” I am usually not saying, “Thank you for this traffic jam” or, “I am so glad I just stubbed my toe.” James is not saying that we will or should enjoy pain or difficulties. He is saying that as our faith is tested it becomes stronger, just like we do when we go to the gym.

Next he writes of Humble Pride. James 1:9-10 says,

9 But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; 10 and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away.

How can one in humble circumstances glory in his high position? The trick is we are not boasting or glorifying ourselves, but we are glorifying our God. Jesus tells us in Luke 10:42-45 that the one who wishes to become great must become least. As we serve others, we show that we are not focused on the desires of our flesh but instead we are caring for others. This shows true humility. After telling us that we are to be doing the word of God and not just hearing it James ends this chapter by telling us that pure and undefiled religion is to serve widows and orphans while keeping yourself unstained.

Sometimes when you do the right thing it may just confuse someone enough to cause them to ask why you did it. Let’s live in a way that inspires others to seek God and His Kingdom!

-Bill Dunn