QUESTIONS? “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” In James 2:14-17(NIV) James asked some very important questions to his listeners. Questions that were uncomfortable and embarrassing at times. Almost as if he had seen these things happening among professing Christians. Can the kind of faith that is all talk and no action be real faith? How many Pastors would ask their congregations that question today?
“Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 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?” How many times do we hear of those in need of food and clothing and do nothing? In our society today we think that it is not our responsibility to help these people in need. After all the government will take care of them. Or they could get a job. Really? “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed.” So easy to say but is that really true faith? And what if they are really our brothers and sisters in Christ? Does that change things? Is that what Jesus would do?
In the years in which James lived times were simpler. Christians in the congregation usually knew each other better. Smaller groups were usually the norm. There was also no government welfare to speak of. Also, there were no people in the traffic intersection with a sign, “Will work” but really wanting a handout (maybe ?). Who knows? There was also no panhandler outside a restaurant with the same old story; just a lame beggar by the water. But some of the professing Christian people of James’ day still did not respond to the needs among them. And James said, “what good is it,” that kind of professing faith. Do not misunderstand my point here. In our society today it is often hard to tell when people say they have needs whether they are just lazy, have fallen on hard times, suffered a disaster, or have some other event in their lives that prompts a need. We very often can’t tell if a “need” is real or not. And I don’t have all the answers to this problem. Nor do I suggest that I have always responded in a Christian manner in all situations.
But one fact is real; real faith in Christ produces real action in our world. It is better to be scammed than to not exercise faith with action and leave the results with God. What we have belongs to God. We give it away with wisdom and caution but we do give it away. “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” Life can be confusing. Things are not always simple and clear. But we can always be generous and walk away with a clear conscience toward God and man. After all people of faith do walk by faith, don’t we? Let your faith show through your actions. If we do then people might actually listen to our words.