James here addressed the vital issue of faith and works in the Christian life. He asked two questions that call for negative answers. The Greek word translated “good” comes from a verb that means “to increase”; the noun means “profit” or “advantage.” In essence James asked, “What is accomplished if someone keeps on professing faith but consistently performs no works?” The word faith has the sense of trust in and commitment to Christ for salvation. The openness to receive God’s grace brings redemption, and the redeemed live out that grace. The term “works” refers to good deeds—actions on others’ behalf that demonstrate Christ’s love (see v. 8). James’s question called for an obvious answer: an inactive faith accomplishes nothing. James drew the parallel between words without actions and faith that produces no good works. Apart from works, such faith is dead in and of itself—inwardly lifeless and outwardly unproductive. Here James answered the second question in verse 14. Mere words, no matter how kind or well-meaning, are not substitutes for helpful actions. If all we do is talk about having faith, we do not have saving faith. We can know and use all the right religious words, but without compassionate actions they count for nothing. Saving faith engages in a lot more doing than talking. Our words are not enough. Effective faith is always validated by the works of love that flow from it.
PRAYER – Pray to God for Him to give you discernment for the best way to demonstrate authentic faith by loving one another and our community. Seek God’s face for guidance on sharing Him with a lost and dying world. Then seek to accomplish it – first through prayer, next action.