When it comes to their relationship with God, a lot of people have this idea that God keeps a big scale on which He weighs our behavior here on earth. If the good we do on earth outweighs the bad, then surely God will one day let us into heaven. Such an idea leads many people to assume that their salvation is dependent on their own efforts. On the other hand, there are those who see good works as a thing to avoid and deemphasize. Since salvation is by faith and not of works, some see works as being unnecessary.
There are extremes in two opposite directions. You have those those think that they are earning favor with God by their own efforts. Then you have those who profess faith but there is no evidence of its outworking in their life. What is the relationship between faith and works? This question is taken up by James in these verses. Some have referred to James as the epistle of action because of its emphasis on the practical nature of New Testament faith. Faith and works are mentioned a total of ten times in these 13 verses. James is going to tell us that if we say we have faith, then there needs to be some evidence in our lives that backs up the claim. Without the fruit of good works being produced in one’s life, no matter what a person says, his faith is suspect.
Believers have been created in Christ Jesus for the purpose of good works that bring Him glory. Jesus said that we are to let our light shine in such a way that when others see our good works, they give glory to our Father in heaven. The kind of shallow, false faith that does not result in a changed life is worthless in the sense that it doesn’t point other people to Jesus.
Faith and love is not just something I say with my lips. It is to be something that I express through my life—my hands, my feet, my attitude, and my actions.
For more, read James 2:14-26