“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” – Matthew 7:24-27 (Jesus)
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he looks like. But the one that looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” – James 1:22-25
“But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. – For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” – James 2:18, 26
The Scripture clearly tells us that we are saved by grace and not by our own doing. We cannot earn our salvation by doing good works. Salvation comes only through a relationship with Jesus Christ by faith. But the Scripture also says that a genuine faith in God will show itself in good works. A relationship with Jesus should change the way you act, the way you think, and the way you speak. It should change the way you see the world and how you interact with it. This means that, as people of faith, we should act on what we believe or “just do it”. If your faith is not making a difference in these areas of your life then you probably have a relationship problem. Jesus described people who hear but don’t do as “foolish” in the verses above. He also said, “If you love me you will obey my commandments” (John 14:15). There is no doubt that our God expects us to be doers of the word.
Faith and works are integral to each other in the Bible. One cannot exist without the other and have any value to the Kingdom of God or to the individual. For example, just as the Scripture tells us that faith without works is dead, it also tells us that simply works without faith are meaningless. James is not trying to elevate works above faith, he is trying to motivate the people of faith to work. Faith and works are both necessary to experience the abundant life that we were designed to live.
What James reveals about God is that He expects us to be about His business! Living our lives to His glory and for the purpose of living out the good works that He has created for us (Ephesians 2:10). God does not save us for no good reason. He has a purpose for you and me! Yes, God invites us to be a part of His eternal Kingdom work by ministering in His name to those around us through good works. Jesus said it best,
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16
So, to you who have faith and love Jesus, I challenge you to follow His lead and put legs to your faith! Get out of the pew and into the community. And to those of you who are merely “do-gooders”, I challenge you to follow the command of Jesus to let your light shine for His glory. A good deed can make an impact today but a good deed in the name of Jesus can make an impact for eternity!