For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
Faith and deeds
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 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? 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 my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.
20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father 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 considered righteous by what they do 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.
In this passage James argues that faith and deeds are inextricably linked – you can’t have one without the other. It is hard for him explaining this to Jewish-Christians, because he knows in the Jewish way of life (which they have left behind to become Christians), it was their deeds which made them right with God. James has to walk a fine line. It is not doing good that makes you right with God, Jesus has made you right with God at the cross. Nonetheless, what you do is still important.
Dear Lord, help us to be people who are faithful in world and deed, inside and out. Thank you that even on our most wretched day, your love for us never ceases, and your forgiveness, through Jesus, is always enough. We thank you that we don’t have to be perfect, we simply have to love you with all our hearts. Teach us out of our love for you to love one another. To be people who put faith into action.
Offer to God your own:
Prayers for other people
Bless one another as you finish – for example ‘I bless you now, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirt.