Over the years, you have heard me talk about the “round-to-it” someone once gave me to encourage me to follow through with my promises. What does this have to do with our gifts and learning about them? Well, the truth of the matter is this simple fact, faith in God is directly linked to works (our earthly efforts, as He empowers us, to bring glory to God).
Martin Luther argued such an idea, to such an extent that he thought the epistle (meaning letter) of James should be taken out of the Bible. He would say that “this epistle is not the work of any apostle” all because it teaches the symbiotic relationship between faith and works. So let’s take a brief moment and consider what God says about faith and works.
What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? James 2:14
The common tension between faith and works is revealed through these questions written down by James as he was guided by the Holy Spirit. I say this because it is the Holy Spirit who wishes for us to grasp the necessity of faith and works. So many in Christendom today, think that the only thing one needs to do is believe in God, as they go about their daily routines. There is a cross to bear if we are to be followers of Christ (Matthew 16:24-26), a cross that involves work . . . effort.
Watch how this applies to out theme text of Galatians 6:10: James writes, “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” (James 2:15-16) I think of 1st John 3:18 which says, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” Authentic faith should move one to action!
Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? James 2:22
The above verse reveals that common tension between faith and works: how God intends for them to “work together” to glorify Him. Two examples are given to substantiate his argument: that of Abraham offering up Isaac and later Rahab the harlot who “received the messengers and sent them out another way” (James 2:25). In these two examples, and there are multiple others, faith and works were needed for justification.
The faith that God yearns for His followers to exhibit is one which realizes that it is more than a simple conviction about God (remember the demons, James 2:19). It is a faith that is accompanied by works: a work that reveals to God and others the genuineness of that faith.