Our Scripture Reading for this day is:
James 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
James 2:20 You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
James 2:25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
A few comments:
Our verses today continue yesterday’s theme of faith and works… again, on the surface James seems to be contradicting St. Paul’s emphasis on salvation not by works but by faith. But we certainly can and must read James to be not contradicting the fact that we are saved by faith in Christ’s atoning death on the cross, but that there NECESSARY consequences to a true faith, and that is WORKS.
+ St. James makes it clear that true faith is NOT a simple “acknowledgement” in the Christian/Biblical doctrine. I personally often remind people who say they “believe” in God that even the devil believes in God and that doesn’t make them a Christian. It is love and trust in that God that would make him/her a Christian, in contrast to the Devil who hates God. But really, when I do this, I am presently realizing, I am really not communicating what James is trying to, or I am only getting half of it right. James’ main point would be to go beyond Love and Trust to the end result of GOOD WORKS.
+ So the question for the Christian is at times: Do I have a true faith? The Devil incites this question and it raises doubts and gives us grief. It is easy for the Devil to accuse us of our sins and shortcomings. He will say to our heart: “You have no faith!” So how DO we know that we have a true faith (love and trust) in the Lord? But it is our great privilege as Christians to view our lives and point out how the Grace of God has enabled us to DO GOOD WORKS (even amidst the sin)! Yes, we ARE ALLOWED to be comforted (not prideful of course, because it is ALL by the grace of God!) by our good works!