"So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless."
Nobody wants to be deemed useless. In a world that prizes busyness and success, uselessness could be the most feared label possible. We are supposed to be busy and operating at a feverish pace to be useful, right? I'm pretty certain that our idea of busyness has very little to do with what James was writing about.
There is a simple dichotomy that exists in what James is writing about. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Yet, we are called to do good deeds in life as people of faith. We do not do good deeds in order to have faith and our faith is not complete without good deeds. So why does James need to address this with the early church?
Some in the early church were confusing the reason for doing good works. Others in the early church were saying that faith was all you needed. James reminds them that good works are not done in order to produce faith, but faith without good works is useless. James understands that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. James also is teaching that out of this faith comes good deeds. When we love God with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength it is naturally expressed in our love of others. Faith and good deeds go hand in hand.
As people of faith we are to express our faith through works of mercy toward others. This is when we are found most useful in God's economy. So as James writes, "...faith by itself isn't enough, unless it produces good deeds..." That's when we know that we are truly loving God and loving others.
I can't wait to see you all in church this Palm Sunday. Be sure to invite a friend to our Easter Cantata at 8:15 or 11:15. Remember that our 9:45 service will be in the Family Life Center this week only.