What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. –James 2:14-17
I love to work out. In fact, it’s my favorite hobby. If I have any extra time in the day, you’ll likely find me at the gym, walking in my neighborhood, or lifting weights. As I am learning, muscles work in pairs: biceps and triceps, quadriceps and hamstrings, abdominals and back and so on. The best strength trainers know that in order for the body to be at its strongest and in order to protect the corresponding joint from injury, both major muscles in the pair must be balanced. If not, imbalance and therefore, injury are just around the corner.
In a spiritual sense, the Scriptures indicate that there must be a healthy balance between having faith and what you do. Having one without the other results in imbalance. James argues,
You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that say, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone. —James 2:20-24
Faith and action go hand in hand. It’s not enough to believe what Scripture says, we must actually do what it tells us to do. Believing that the Bible says to feed the poor is not enough. We must act to feed the poor. The same goes for sharing with those in need, visiting the sick and imprisoned, or caring for the needs of the orphaned and widowed. Faith propels us into action. So whether you’re working out in the gym or working out your faith in your daily routine, remember that the muscles, both in the body and in the spirit, work best in pairs.
Faith lived out is hard work, but it’s worth every ounce of effort put into it. Today, feed your faith with action.
James 1:22; Matthew 25:31-46