Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
Relate: There is a problem with writing things down. Once you do, you end up being stuck with whatever you wrote. I’ve been writing on here for about five years. I can go back now and look at some of those early posts and wonder, “What was I thinking?” Don’t get me wrong, I still agree with nearly all of it. My issue is often more of how much my writing style has changed and developed over time. Even still, every now and then I will come across something that deserves a face palm. I know you’ve been there.
Know who else has been there? Martin Luther. No, I am not talking about “I have a dream!” Martin Luther King Jr. At least, not today. He’s made a few mistakes in his time too, but I am going back a lot further. I’m talking about the 95 Thesis nailed to the door, “Here I stand, I can do no other” Martin Luther. He was a great man, he was an excellent theologian, he was even a great hymn writer. But he most certainly was not perfect. Martin Luther ended up putting so much emphasis on Sola Fide (Faith alone) that he looked at portions of James like the part quoted above and doubted if the book should even be part of the canon. He said on different occasions that it was “an epistle of straw” and that it was not of “apostolic authorship” Later on he would backtrack on these statements, the book was included in his translation of the Bible, and he would say that he holds the book in very high regard, but the damage was done. Pen had hit paper which had gone to press and even to this day he is known to hate the book of James.
React: Also to this day there are those who would actually agree with Luther’s initial statement questioning James’ validity. They do this because they don’t understand what James was actually talking about. James is not proposing a faith plus works doctrine. Not even close. What James is saying is that faith produces works. If we truly believe something we will act on it. If I truly believe Jesus is Lord, I will obey Him. If I truly believe that he has commanded me to love my neighbors, I will love my neighbors even when I find it incredibly difficult to like them. If I truly believe that I should hide God’s word in my heart, I will memorize. If I say I believe something, but there no works to demonstrate the validity of my claim then my faith is dead. It isn’t that deeds create faith. It isn’t that my good works save me. They simply demonstrate that I do have faith. They show that I am saved. So… am I? Do my actions prove it?
The first believers called themselves disciples. They were students, imitators, followers of You. All that required action. When they finally became known as Christians that word connotated that they were like You. People didn’t say that because of what they believed. They said it because of what they saw. When people look at me, do they see You? Let me be Your reflection. When people get to know me, do they understand that I am a student, a follower, a *disciple* of You? Help me to actually live out what I claim to believe. Forgive me for the many, many times there is a disconnect between what I say and what I do. All I want, Lord, is to be more like You.