The Power of Good Works
Read James 2:14-23
“I will show you my faith by my works.”
For James, the proof is in the pudding. The genuineness of our faith is not revealed in our confession but in how we live. As the saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” But James is not advoking any kind of justification by works. Scripture makes it clear that salvation comes by grace and grace alone apart from any contributing effort on our part (Ephesians 2:8-9). But we also find that a genuine relationship with God inevitably results in a change of life, for we are now a new created, created for the purpose of good works (Ephesians 1:10). My Father, who was a farmer but also a practical theologian, summed it up best when he stated, “To be accepted by Christ you do not have to change, but if you accept Christ you will be changed.” The is not because we are conducting our change to gain acceptance before God, but because he is now working to transform us to the image of his Son.
What gives evidence to our salvation is not what we say but the change that Christ makes in us. It is then that gives credence to our testimony. When Christ is working in us, the difference is both visible and lasting. We can see our change and see the joy and hope it brings.
If our changed conduct and goods works provide a testimony to the world of the genuineness of our faith, then the question remains, “What are the good works that scripture are referring to?” Again the answer lies in the scriptures. It begins with the fruits of the Spirit. Instead of hatred, we demonstrate love. Instead of sadness, discouragement, and gloom, we radiate joy because God has promised us an eternal inheritance. Instead of hostility and anger, we demonstrate peace, patience, and kindness, and the list goes all. We have a different outlook and attitude on life because the Holy Spirit is at work in us.
Second, our good works involve a right attitude towards those in authority. In an age of political hostility towards the government, especially towards those on the other side of the political spectrum. In Titus 3:1, we are told: “to be ready for every good work.” However, we should notice that the context comes in our responsibility to be submitted to those in authority. Instead of attacking and resisting those in charge, we are to instead focus upon live godly lives and maintaining a proper attitude towards them because we recognize that ultimately God is the one who puts them in their position.
Third, good works include caring for the needs of people. James again put our attitude towards others, especially those lacking the very basics of life, in focus. We demonstrate our faith by ministering to their needs. We are to provide for people who lack good goof and protection from the elements. But it does not end there but includes our whole attitude towards others. As Paul states in Philippians 2, we are to consider the needs of others more important than our own needs.
While evangelism must also culminate in the verbal sharing of the Gospel, it starts with the change in our conduct, lifestyle, and response to others. How we treat others and how the Gospel changes our life gives credibility to our message of God. Whether at work, at home, or play, allow Christ to radiate through your life so that you can share the hope of the Gospel with others.