We show our faith by our works. It’s not enough to say that we believe in God. We show by our works of obedience, our conduct, our lives, the way we treat others that we have faith in God. Abraham demonstrated his faith in an act of obedience. He obeyed God’s command to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. He demonstrated his faith by leaving his home in Ur to go to a strange land because God told him to.
Rahab demonstrated her faith by helping the messengers. She saved their lives because she feared their God. We are justified by works and not by faith alone.
The just shall live by faith. The just here are those who are righteous in conduct and character. Just means right, correct, lawful. The person is just towards others; obedient to the laws of God; upright, honest, virtuous, pious. This person is living by his faith which is not dead. This is a faith with works. What are the works? His or her character. Convicted that God exists and is the Creator and Ruler of all things, the Provider and Bestower of salvation through Christ; a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain salvation and eternal life, this person will strive with the help of the Holy Spirit, to live a life that is pleasing and acceptable to God; to become more like Christ everyday.
The just live by the Spirit. They walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. We know the just by their works. James is right–faith, true faith has works. The works prove that the faith is genuine. Zacchaeus was justified by his works. In faith, he declared that he would give half of what he had to the poor and that he would restore whatever he had taken from any man. Zacchaeus became a changed man. Faith in Jesus should make us want to change for the better.
We are saved by grace through faith and not works but our faith has to bear fruit. It’s not enough to say you have faith. Your actions will tell how strong your faith is. What if God were to tell you to move to another city? Or He called you to be a missionary? Or He called you to do something you don’t feel you are qualified to do like Moses? Stepping up to the plate is faith by works. You are basically acting on your faith. You are putting faith into action and you will see the results and praise God.
James gives a very good example of what faith with works is. “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). What is the point of saying that you have faith and you don’t lift a finger to help someone in need? Dorcas had working faith. She provided coats and clothes for the widows. She saw a need and in faith, she provided it. She knew that God was using her to help others. She was a woman known for doing good deeds.
You see a hungry person and you say that you have faith that he would be cared for but what good is that? Why not buy him a hot drink and a something to eat? That’s faith with works. When the five thousand people went to hear Jesus speak, He saw that they were hungry. He didn’t send them away hungry. Instead, He had them sit down and in faith He fed them with a little boy’s lunch. The blind man showed his faith when he obeyed Jesus and went and washed the mud from his eyes. The four men showed their faith when they lowered their crippled friend through the roof so that he ended up right in front of Jesus. The woman with the issue showed her faith when she braved a jostling crowd to touch Jesus’ hem. The mother showed her faith when she refused to give up getting the help she needed for her daughter.
Faith and works go hand in hand. Faith reaches out and grabs hold of God’s promises. It takes advantage of opportunities. It helps others. It makes a difference. It is active. It bears fruit. We show our faith by our works.