Faith in action
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. 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.” James 2:17-18 NLT
James is describing from his epistle the authenticity of a person’s faith being proven by one’s actions. Faith is not just making a claim that you have it because you believe a certain confession such as “Jesus is Lord” for this can lead only to having a mental assent if there are no confirming deeds to prove the existence of such claim. This is why James raised the question from a previous passage: “What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions?” (James 2:14). Faith in God is what flows through our hearts, confirmed and emanating from our minds, that translates into actions. It is active for it is not just heard from what we say but seen from our actions because we are motivated by the love of Christ that is in us. Faith as described in the Parable of the Sower is like a seed planted in the good soil that produces a harvest. “The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” (Matthew 13:23). King Agrippa is familiar with the writings of the prophets from the Old Testament. When Paul was on trial because of his faith and was presented before him, Paul raised the question to the king if he believes in the prophetic books which he read, “King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do” (Acts 26:27). Paul placed the king in a bind because if he claims he believes the prophets then it follows that he will believe in Jesus for He is the one written by the prophets from the Old Testament. But King Agrippa will not identify with Paul’s message of salvation through Jesus Christ so he deflected with a question, “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly?” (Acts 26:28). He never came to Christ for the belief he claims is mental assent thus, it’s dead. True faith is authenticated by a lifestyle that identifies and reflects allegiance to Christ. This is what Paul told Christians in Thessalonica when he is reminded of their actions because of their faith in Christ: “we think of your faithful work, your loving deeds, and the enduring hope you have because of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3). We receive salvation by grace alone through faith (Ephesians 2:8) and that relationship with God that saved us is demonstrated by our actions.