Thursday After Seventeenth Sunday After Trinity James 2:14-26
THURSDAY AFTER SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY
For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
This "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesu Christ" (James 1:1) was—according to what we believe to be true from the ancient church—the apostle James, Jesus' own brother, the one who doubted while Jesus lived but was convinced when Jesus showed Himself after the resurrection. James became one of the leaders in the ancient church in Jerusalem until he, like so many others, was martyred.
In James's letter we can see what a pious and obedient Jew learned from Jesus. James thinks good deeds are very important, but he knows they have to be performed from the heart. He warns repeatedly against a Christianity that consists only of words or opinions—a warning we all need. Here in chapter 2, he especially warns us about a misinterpretation of the Gospel that some people can easily do, even among themselves. They hear the words "faith alone…through faith alone" and they think that deeds are not that important. James's answer to that is "Faith without works is dead.” A living faith always includes good works. A body that doesn’t move and function is dead. A faith that doesn't show itself through good deeds is just as dead. Or, as Paul expresses it: Everything is dependent on whether we have a faith that is active through love. There are extreme situations where a believer can't do any good works. That's the way it was for the thief on the cross and that's the way it can be for people who come to faith on their deathbed. That's when that faith alone can give us eternal bliss. It gives us a part of Christ and then we have everything we need. The simple fact that faith is fellowship with Christ, which means you can't have it without wanting to do good works. A healthy tree bears good fruit.
This also applies to the words we use. Empty, thoughtless, selfish, and malicious words bear witness that there is no faith in the heart. Even pious words can have the same effect if they're not followed by deeds of love. The mouth expresses what the heart is full of. Even deeds, however, speak that language. You can't pick figs from thistles. The branch that is engrafted in Christ bears good fruit. If Christ lives in a heart, it’s noticeable both in word and deed.
Lord, help me to believe correctly so I can live correctly. Regarding my faith, help me so I see only You and not my works. If I see them, I dare not believe. Regarding my works, help me to see both You and everyone You want me to do something for. Help me to have an eye for You and see You everywhere among people. Then, it will be so much easier for me to do what You want. I can't do anything without You. So remain with me, O Lord Jesus. Amen.