Daily Devotional

"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." James 2:18

Before we moved to Fresno, we lived in house that had a lot of interesting quirks. There was a closet that was converted to a bathroom, a bathroom that was converted to a laundry room, and a laundry space that was converted to an office/pantry. Most of these quirks gave the house a unique charm and character, and if nothing else, an interesting conversation starter.

Some of the quirks were just flat-out annoying. The house also had a tankless water heater which we thought was a great perk when we bought the house. What we didn’t know is that it was installed by the previous owner who thought he was handier than he really was. 95% of the time the water heater worked great. There was a literal endless supply of hot water that was greatly appreciated. The other 5% was definitely not great. Sometimes in the middle of a shower it would just stop working. Because it was a tankless water heater there was no warning or reserve of hot water, it simply went from hot to ice cold. We dealt with this for a little while, but we quickly realized that a tankless water heater that “kind of” worked wasn’t going to cut it and we had it replaced.

James once again focuses our attention on a simple fact; faith either works or it doesn’t. There is no such thing as a kind of working, sort of working, or sometimes working faith. It’s on or it’s off; it’s alive or it’s dead.

Even in James’ day we see the idea of people desiring truth to be subjective rather objective. It’s as if those on the other side of James’ argument are saying, “I hear you James, you say you have works and that’s great. My truth is that I have faith and that’s all I need. We can both be right.” James disagrees and is not putting up with that line of thinking. “Show me your faith” is his reply. Words are easy, but how we live proves what we really believe.

When James says that he will show his faith “by” his works, this is the Greek word “ek” which simply means “out of.” These works he is speaking of naturally flow out of his faith in Jesus.

Think of an outlet in your wall. A working outlet has electricity flowing out of it. I could say an outlet works but I don’t really know for sure till I plug something into it and test it. A working outlet will have electricity flow out of it into whatever is plugged in; that’s just how it works. A genuine faith will have good works that flow out of it; that’s just how it works.

Jon Courson says it this way, “It is not faith and works that save a person. Neither is it faith or works. It is faith that works.” Faith in Jesus Christ alone is what saves, but a true faith in Jesus will be a working faith.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.