What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? James 2, verse 14
Be very careful here. If you want to grasp the meaning of this verse, don’t read it alone. Go back and re-read all of the 2 chapters before. Don’t get fooled into interpreting this verse as “work out your own salvation.”
It’s a mistake we all make from time to time. Especially if you’re bull-headed like me. It’s easy to think that we can do it all ourselves, or that the things we do earn favor in God’s eyes. After all, we’re put here to work, to share Jesus in all that we do… to ‘do’ things in life. Isn’t it easy, then, to think that it’s our doing that makes Jesus love us more? Just look at how good I’ve been, how hard I’ve been working. Just look at my good intentions! James even agrees, saying that our faith only means something because we’re doing something about it, right?
If that’s what you think, you couldn’t be more mistaken. Go back and re-read again, then come back to me here.
Now that you’re back, let’s get back to the truth that James is telling us about his brother, Jesus. All through chapter 1, he says that believing in Jesus is going to be tough, that we’ll need to persevere. And that persevering in Jesus means something. It builds others up, toughens our skin, and prepares us to move forward in the faith. It is evidence of faith to people who watch us, who are looking to see what evidence we show that we believe in this Jesus, that He is all He says He is.
The ‘doing’ matters because it is the doing that shows others. It prepares us for more, like tuning an instrument. What good is it to believe in Jesus if we don’t let Him change what we say & do, then prove we’re changed by living in changed ways?
Believe me, this is the toughest part of following Jesus. It’s hard to back away from the arguments because my self-righteous nature rails against doing so, and I don’t like to lose. It’s hard to keep away from the things that tempt us because, after all, just one more won’t hurt. It’s hard to stand up for what you believe when everyone else compromises on principle instead of compromising on practice.
We aren’t in it alone; we never are. The doing matters. It matters to help build others up so that Jesus might have a work in them too.
Lord, help me more and more to do for You. Keep me from temptation, forgive me when I mess it up, and help me to move forward in following You.
What are your thoughts on working out your own salvation?
How do you confuse what you do & working for faith?
Do you sometimes feel alone in what you do?