This site uses cookies to provide you with more responsive and personalized service and to collect certain information about your use of the site.  You can change your cookie settings through your browser.  If you continue without changing your settings, you agree to our use of cookies.  See our Privacy Policy for more information.

Mature Faith Is Seen in Good Deeds Mature Faith Is Seen in Good Deeds

Mature Faith Is Seen in Good Deeds


Commentator Zane C. Hodges described the relationship between faith and good works: “[W]orks are in fact the vitalizing ‘spirit’ which keeps one’s faith alive, in the same way that the human spirit keeps the human body alive. Whenever a Christian ceases to act on his faith, that faith atrophies and becomes little more than a creedal corpse. . . . Faith remains vital and alive as long as it is being translated into real works of living obedience” (v. 26).

Mature faith is seen in good deeds. This is the simple point of today’s reading. Yet these verses have long been debated; indeed, this passage is why Martin Luther once called James an “epistle of straw.” But is James preaching salvation by works? No. The controversy is based on a misunderstanding.

James was writing to believers, as we can see from his repeated address to “brothers and sisters” (v. 14). This passage is not about salvation at all. James is describing how we as believers should live out our faith. From this practical perspective, faith without good works is “dead,” that is, worthless or useless (v. 17). As some have said: “We’re justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone” (see Eph. 2:8–10).

The example in this passage makes it clear (vv. 15–16). If a fellow believer is in need of clothing or food and one responds with kind wishes, “what good is it?” Talk is cheap. John makes precisely the same point that genuine Christian love for those in need is demonstrated in action (1 John 3:17–18).

James’s response to a rhetorical objection drives home the point (vv. 18–19). Faith without deeds is inconceivable; the idea is nonsense. Living faith always acts in ways that fulfill the “royal law” of love (v. 8).

Pray with Us

Please include the remaining Human Resources employees in your prayer time today. May Lud Anderson, Darric Obinger, Michelle Hughes, and Mia Gale walk in God’s love and reflect it to those with whom they interact daily at Moody.

BY Brad Baurain

Dr. Bradley Baurain is Professor and Program Head of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at Moody Bible Institute. Bradley has the unique privilege of holding a degree from four different universities (including Moody). He has just published his first book, On Waiting Well. Bradley taught in China, Vietnam, the United States, and Canada. Bradley and his wife, Julia, have four children and reside in Northwest Indiana.

Find Daily Devotionals by Month