Todays readings.. Job 10, Micah 6, James 2
Today we continued meditating on the Epistle of James and the vital observations he makes on the quality of faith that a believer needs to have. The Jews were very good at reasoning and talking, we can see that in the speeches of Job’s friends, also in the religious leaders who had encounters with Jesus and had confidence in being “the children of Abraham” [John 8 v.39]
It is evident from James’ letter that he saw a need to emphasize that having faith is not just something you talk about and discuss to make sure you have a true faith. You then live your life by building on that faith, showing it by actions as well as words. Next week when we read Peter’s letters we must note his blunt words, “you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for salvation … if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes … may be found to result in praise and glory and honour at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” [1 Pet. 1 v.5-7]
James challenges, “Show me your faith apart from your works and I will show you my faith by my works” [2 v.18] He becomes very blunt stating “faith apart from works is useless” [v.20] But what does he mean by works?
Works alone, apart from faith is also useless – in the eternal sense. A lot of “good works” are encouraged in our part of the world, especially to give money to various charity organisations. These ‘works’ have only value for the here and now.
James gives the example of Abraham and all he did in serving God. He did what God asked him to do, even to the point of being ready to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice! Then James makes the point that his “faith was completed by his works.” [v.22]
James then gives an example which is appropriate today in some countries more than others, but may well become world-wide as more and more human governments fail to function properly. He writes, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what benefit is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works is dead.” [v.15-17] Now we particularly note what Paul writes on this, “ … as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” [Gal. 6 v.10]
Soon we will be reading the last message of Jesus, the challenging book of Revelation! Let us note Ch. 2 v.23 “I am he who searches mind and heart and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.” That is, “works’ done to confirm and complete your faith.