Three times in James chapter 2, he says that “faith without works is dead”. I don’t know why, but some people are convicted when they hear this (actually, I do know why). They get offended at the fact that their faith in God could need some more work. I know I have felt like this to be real. How many times have we heard this preached and thought to ourselves, “oh no, condemnation time cometh”?
These verses were never meant to condemn, compare, or tear anyone down. But yet there have been times I have felt like I wasn’t even saved after hearing this. So if our faith is dead, does that mean we are zombies? The walking dead? I looked up the word “dead” to search the original meaning hoping there was more or even a deeper revelation happening here but nope. It means dead. Deceased. Departed. Breathed the last breath… and that’s what myself, and so many others think about when we read this too I would imagine.
Truth is, we still have faith. We still believe. Still pray. Praise God. Thank Jesus. Read the Word. Have joyous tears. Go to church. Meditate on His goodness…. So how can our faith be dead? To us it’s still alive and breathing. In our minds we say, “How dare James say that our faith is dead!”
To the world around us. To others. To the people that watch to see if our Christianity has holes in it. Our faith is dead! That’s what James is talking about. Not what we feel, but what other people see and think. We profess to be Christians, go to church, make a good righteous appearance, but yet the world still doesn’t see our faith. We walk around saying we have life, but the world sees it differently.
As I am writing this, I’m just as much guilty as others. The world sees a tombstone, to where we feel life. They see a hypocrite, but we feel transformed by the renewing of our minds. That’s the problem. It’s just in our minds and not on the surface. Instead of expressing the joy of our salvation, we keep it in. Instead of reaching out and helping others and the community, we just talk about it. The Word of God says they will know us by our love. But where’s it at?
The good news is, the death James talks about here can be reversed. We can raise it from the dead. These works James talked about is not works with our hands only, but works with our attitudes too. Works in our personas. Works with our love towards others. Works by praying for others. For reaching out to others. Works to be the salt and light into a dark and hurting world.
As we are celebrating Thanksgiving today in the States, I thank God for second chances. That every day His mercies are new. That He forgives. He equips us for our journeys. That we have the opportunity to raise our dead works, dust them off, and shine His Glory to the world.
Elder Steve Smith