Some claim to have faith and love to go around trying to prove that they have more faith than others, but they have no works. They're quick to say, "I'll pray for you," but often even quicker to ignore the needs of their fellow man. They cater to the wealthy among them, but despise the poor and homeless. What does the bible say about this?
James 2:1-5 (New International Version)
My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, Heres a good seat for you, but say to the poor man, You stand there or Sit on the floor by my feet, have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: 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?
For those who prefer the King James version.
James 2:1-5 (King James Version)
My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
Just to prevent any misunderstanding by those who aren't aware of meaning changes, in the King James version, the word translated as "gay" does not mean homosexual. I'm sure children get a giggle over reading the word in the bible. The Greek word is , or "lampran" as some translators write it, which means "bright, shining, splendorous, elegant." You can hear the pronunciation here. Christ didn't want us to show favoritism to the rich. Material wealth and fine clothing are not what Jesus was about. God sees us all as equals, whether we have billions or nothing. God doesn't want us to show everyone how faithful we are just by shouting words of his glory and praying for others while doing nothing else. How, then, is our faith to be shown real?
James 2:14-26 (New International Version)
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, Go in peace; keep warm and well fed, but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 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 my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe thatand shudder.
You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[a]? Was not our father 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 says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,[b] and he was called Gods friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
James 2:20 Some early manuscripts dead
James 2:23 Gen. 15:6
For those who prefer King James:
James 2:14-26 (King James Version)
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.
Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
What James is telling us is that it's far better to show our faith by works than to speak idle words about your faith. You may have heard your parents say, "Do as I say, not as I do," but children aren't stupid and they're much more likely to follow your actions than what you tell them. If you tell them not to do something that you're doing, they're just going to look at you like you're crazy, even if you punish them for doing what you're doing. It's much the same with anyone who hears your words and sees you doing other than what your words are saying. It's about truth. If you aren't honest with yourself, you're going to have a difficult time being honest with others.
Actions speak louder than words. You can talk about your faith and how much you love Jesus, but if you are not trying to do the things that Jesus did, how can anyone take you seriously? Jesus fed, clothed, and healed the poor. If you say that you love Jesus, but condemn the poor for being lazy or asking for handouts, or speak against any measure that would help the poor, how is that exemplifying Christ? You're saying that you're a Christian, but doing the opposite of what Christ wants. That's against Christ, or anti-Christ. Jesus is far more concerned with how you treat others than how dazzling or ugly you look in your new clothing or what kind of vehicle you may or may not be driving or how big or non-existent your house may be. Jesus is concerned with the condition of your spirit, not your wealth.
In James 3, it states.
James 3:12 (New International Version)
My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
For those who prefer King James:
James 3:12 (King James Version)
Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.
If you're claiming to be a fig tree, yet bearing another type of fruit, do you think that you're fooling anyone who has knowledge of what a fig tree is? Do you think you're fooling God with idle words? He knows both your heart and your works. Do you think you're fooling others? They can see your actions, often even when you try to hide them. Are you fooling yourself? That's something to think about.
Copyright © 2011 Cal Jennings