James 2:26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
Martin Luther, having rediscovered salvation by grace through faith, considered James to be “a book of straw,” but it has always been something of a favorite of mine. It certainly isn’t “politically correct!” Luther was dealing with a situation where many believed you could buy your way into heaven, in a time when many Church officials were totally corrupt. That of course is a terrible situation, but “ivory tower” Christians aren’t much better. I don’t think James disagreed in the least with Paul’s affirmation that we are saved by grace through faith, (Ephesians 2:8-10) but he wasn’t about to let people weasel out of living an active Christian life by claiming they had faith. As has been said, in the debate between faith and “works,” real faith works. That’s precisely what this verse says. The process of Christian maturity is getting our lives in line with what we believe. The danger comes in our remarkable ability to deceive ourselves, which James famously mentions in James 1:22. Any time we hear God’s Word we need to be active in analyzing how it applies to our daily lives, and then follow through in applying it. That’s why I’m so appreciative of Wayne Cordeiro’s SOAP system of personal devotions, which I’ve followed for several years now. The A in that acronym stands for Application. Any time we read the Bible we need to let our guard down to allow the Holy Spirit to show us areas where we need to repent, as well as encourage us and give us wisdom in living as Christ’s representatives. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
As steeped in the Bible as I am, it is a constant consideration for me as to whether I am applying what I know, rather than just having it in my head. I’m quite an expert at deceiving myself! I want my faith to be fully alive and active, and I want to impart such faith to as many as will receive it. In the upcoming Christmas season there is real danger of being numb to the extremely familiar, and I have got to be on my guard. I need to remember that most of the people around me don’t really know the story, and certainly not all it means to them. I am to share with them how God’s love, His “faith in mankind,” if you will, was expressed through the action of Christ coming to earth as a baby in a manger. There is never a disconnect between faith and works for God! If I believe the truth of the Bible, then I will act to communicate it to others.
Father, thank You for the incredible privilege of acting as Your representative. Help me never let that slide, but open up more and more fully for Your Spirit to act freely in and through me, so that Your will may be done for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!