I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first.
When it comes to faith, God knows where we stand. We can talk about faith all that we want, but what really matters is whether our faith stands firm when trials come about. If our faith stands firm in those trials, we will develop perseverance.
Our deeds are a testament to our faith. We must not only talk the talk but walk the walk. When it comes time to have faith, what we do – whether we rely on God or man – is going to be evidence of where our faith is.
Our faith should be growing every day. As we face hardships in life, we observe how God is with us. Not only does this help our faith grow, but it also grows by watching how God helps others in their struggles.
Faith is more than simply salvation. Faith in Jesus is required for the forgiveness of our sins, but it is a part of our everyday life. In the end, we can’t fake faith, we either have it or we don’t. God knows if our faith is genuine and He sees if we back it up with our actions.
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
“I can fly by flapping my arms really fast. I’ve never tried it and I have no desire to prove it, but I’m sure of this.” Just as this statement is ridiculous, so is faith without evidence to back it up.
Many people get confused about faith and deeds but it is really simple. Deeds are of no value themselves. We can’t follow the law perfectly and that is the end of our deeds. But deeds are evidence of our faith.
A person can say that they have faith all they want. When a situation comes where faith is required, that is the true test of whether they have faith. This is where deeds come in. Will their deeds back up their faith or will their deeds show that their faith is in their own ability and that of other people.
When it comes to finances, do we give to God first and then trust Him to supply our needs, or do we make sure our needs are met before giving? These deeds are evidence of our faith. We can talk all that we want, but do our deeds reflect where our faith lies?
Essentially, James is saying, “Sure, you talk the talk, but do you also walk the walk?” True faith is lived, not just talked about. It is expressed in deeds, not words.
Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
It is by no chance that the poor, the weak, and the lowly positioned have come to Christ. Some accuse people of using religion as a crutch to deal with everyday problems and in some ways this is true.
But rather than act as if help from God is a bad thing that is used by the weak, we should look at it as a blessing for those who are rich in faith. Jesus spoke in hyperbole when He said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than to enter the kingdom of God. However, He was correct in that few of the rich and powerful seek Him out.
Those who believe that they have their life altogether often do not realize their need for God. Rarely is anyone’s life as good as it seems either, as admitting that it is anything less than perfect is a sign of weakness as well.
Those who recognize that their life is a mess are the ones who seek help. While there are thousands of places to seek help – financial counseling, alcoholic support groups, marriage seminars – God is the true source of help.
People who realize that they are spiritually bankrupt will soon find themselves to be rich in faith. This faith will lead to the richness of eternal life – something that few people who are rich in this life will ever even search for.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
James is one of the most difficult books of the Bible to follow because it contains some of the hardest principles to live by. James, the brother of Jesus, was the head of the early church and was likely addressing problems that had appeared in numerous churches.
Although it is not our natural inclination to be joyful when we suffer hardships, we would do well to remember that it is through suffering that our faith is grown. We are not challenged and our faith is not strengthened when everything is going right in our life.
By enduring hardships, we will develop perseverance. Some people self righteously survive hardships and boast about their strength afterwards. Christians know that this is not the case however.
When we endure hardships, we know that it is God who sees us through suffering. As long as we remember this, our faith is strengthened and we will be better able to deal with the next trial that we may face.
1 Peter 5:9
Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
Earlier we looked at the shield of faith and how a Christian should use it. The shield provides resistance against the fiery arrows of the devil.
Satan will attack us, we can be sure of that. As a matter of fact, the stronger we stand in our faith, the stronger the attacks will become because Satan wishes to destroy us.
We are called to stand firm in our faith however. We can’t resist the attacks of the devil on our own. All of our wisdom and confidence and strength will not do anything to protect us from the schemes of the devil. Only by God’s strength will we stand firm.
Faith means trusting that God is in control even when things feel out of control and when we would prefer to be in control. When we believe that things are under our control, we have no need for faith as we will try to manage on our own. When things are out of hand, that is when we need our faith.
Not only should we rest secure knowing that God is in control, we can be assured that we do not suffer alone. Whatever trials we may face in life, there are others who suffer alongside of us. We can draw encouragement in seeing how God is helping others through their battles and they can draw strength from watching us as well.