A thankful heart
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.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? James 2:18-20 NLT
James is building his presentation regarding faith and actions. He refuses to accept that there is division between faith and works. True faith cannot exist separately from works, and works acceptable in the sight of God cannot be performed without true faith. From the text, James challenges the person who says, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” James wants to see what kind of faith others possess especially if that faith does not produce actions. If faith is not rooted in a believing heart, then that faith amounts to nothing more than empty words—it is worthless. Its opposite is true faith which is inseparably joined to deeds of love. Paul summarizes this point clearly when he says, “When we place our faith in Christ Jesus… What is important is faith expressing itself in love” (Galatians 5:6). There are those who will claim that faith is not necessary to do good works. For a believer whose faith is in Christ, actions are motivated by gratitude that originates from a thankful heart. Just as a motor produces power because an electrical current flows into it, so a Christian produces good deeds because of true faith motivated by the love of God and that is what empowers him. We should take the warning the Lord Jesus Christ gave when He said, “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit…So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 7:16-19). Those who say that they have faith but fail to act will hear Jesus say, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:23). Faith without works is dead. The person who demonstrates only his intellectual assent to a scriptural truth, without displaying commitment to the God he professes, is empty of true faith. His faith, which is nothing more than make-believe, is dead. Thankfulness is not by lip service alone but by our deeds that bring glory to God.