So you see, it isn’t enough to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good works is no faith—it is dead and useless. James 2:17
Faith is a central theme in Christianity. Our relationship with God is a function of our faith in Him. Hence, we need to understand what God demands of us as we affirm our faith in Him. Our Bible text provides a practical teaching about about how to keep our faith alive. We learn that it is not enough to have faith; we need to do good to prove it.
James, the brother of Jesus, the author of this chapter, gave some interesting illustrations in verses 14-16.
14 Dear brothers, what’s the use of saying that you have faith and are Christians if you aren’t proving it by helping others? Will that kind of faith save anyone? 15 If you have a friend who is in need of food and clothing, 16 and you say to him, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat hearty,” and then don’t give him clothes or food, what good does that do?
Let us take a close look at the situation James was addressing here. If we have believers in need of basic amenities, we have an obligation to help by giving what we have as much as praying with them. It is hypocritical and pretentious to let them go unattended with the notion that God will meet their needs. God is already meeting their needs by sending them to us because He gave us resources to meet other people’s needs.
Our commitment to other’s needs demonstrates our faith, which is referred to as a living faith. Living faith does good work to others and makes other people feel safe and secure. In Matthew 25:34-40, Jesus told us what we could do to earn eternal life.
34 “Then I, the King, shall say to those at my right, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, into the Kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me; I was thirsty, and you gave me water; I was a stranger, and you invited me into your homes; 36 naked and you clothed me; sick and in prison, and you visited me.’37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Sir, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you anything to drink? 38 Or a stranger, and help you? Or naked, and clothe you? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’40 “And I, the King, will tell them, ‘When you did it to these my brothers, you were doing it to me!’
It is interesting that some of our common religious activities are not included in the criteria for earning eternal glory. For example, the king did not say; you built me a beautiful sanctuary; you bought buses; you acquired hectares of land and so on. Instead, the king appreciated giving food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, shelter to the homeless, clothing to the naked, and visiting the prisoners. These acts of doing good can be expressed in different. Even if people did not surrender their lives to Jesus after receiving our kindness, the seed of faith sown into their lives through our good deeds would definitely grow in them and bring them to the Lord.
Living faith is a giving faith. A small seed of kindness, good words, hospital visits, food for the poor, clothing for the needy, and money for people financially broke will surely grow into a magnificent tree that the whole world would see. Therefore, we must change our attitudes toward people. Let us not see the needy as lazy but as God’s opportunity for us to grow our faith. Every gift you offer to the needy will prove that you have a living faith.