The relation between faith and action
Now what use is it, my brothers, for a man to say he “has faith” if his actions do
not correspond with it? Could that sort of faith save anyone’s soul? If a fellow man
or woman has no clothes to wear and nothing to eat, and one of you say, “Good
luck to you I hope you’ll keep warm and find enough to eat”, and yet give them
nothing to meet their physical needs, what on earth is the good of that? Yet that is
exactly what a bare faith without a corresponding life is like—useless and dead. If
we only “have faith” a man could easily challenge us by saying, “you say that you
have faith and I have merely good actions. Well, all you can do is to show me a
faith without corresponding actions, but I can show you by my actions that I have
faith as well.”
To the man who thinks that faith by itself is enough I feel inclined to say, “So you
believe that there is one God? That’s fine. So do all the devils in hell and shudder
in terror!” For, my dear short-sighted man, can’t you see far enough to realise that
faith without the right actions is dead and useless? Think of Abraham, our
ancestor. Wasn’t it his action which really justified him in God’s sight when his
faith led him to offer his son Isaac on the altar? Can’t you see that his faith and his
actions were, so to speak, partners—that his faith was implemented by his deed?
That is what the scripture means when it says: ‘Abraham believed God, and it was
accounted to him for righteousness. And he was called the friend of God.’
A man is justified before God by what he does as well as by what he believes.
Rahab who was a prostitute and a foreigner has been quoted as an example of faith,
yet surely it was her action that pleased God, when she welcomed Joshua’s
reconnoitering party and got them safely back by a different route.
Yes, faith without action is as dead as a body without a soul.
James 2:14-26 (PHILLIPS)
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