Thursday, October 27th. James 2:8-18

You do well if you really fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. For the one who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery but if you murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. James 2:8-18


Words matter.  What we say, and how we say it, makes a difference.  When it comes to matters of faith, we use our words carefully.  But words only go so far.


At one point in his career, Martin Luther didn’t have much good to say about the book of James.  Luther’s whole understanding of God had been overhauled with the realization that grace is grace.  In Jesus God was reconciling the world to himself by grace, as a free gift, and we know that by trusting in Jesus who has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves.  Faith is a gift. 


Luther was convinced by the Bible that we aren’t saved by our good words; our good works are what we do in response to what God has already done for us.  Thus, Luther didn’t have much good to say about James’ question, “Can faith save you?”  “Of course it can!” Luther said.


Words matter.


But later in life, Luther came around.  For words can also be empty.  Words can be smokescreens.  We are saved by grace, not grammar.  God is good to us that we might be good to others and a well phrased sentence, regardless of good intentions, doesn’t fill a hungry belly on a cold winter morning.  Only food does that.


The Christian faith is very down to earth.  We trust the God who revealed himself to us by coming down to earth in Jesus.  God’s love became real in the person and the work of Jesus.  At the end of his ministry, Jesus charged his disciples to do, on the earth, what they had seen Jesus do – love, care, teach, heal.


So we say things like “God’s work, our hands.”  We realize that God has no hands, arms or feet but ours.  We are the body of Christ in the world, continuing to do what we think Jesus would have done.  Clearly words matter, but words only go so far.


In Jesus, we are free from the condemnation of the law.  In Jesus, we are free to be who God has created us to be.  In Jesus, we can live without fear about eternity.  We are free then to love others, to care for the needs of those we might never meet, to share what we have been given for the sake of others, to speak up on behalf of those who have no voice, to show mercy, to be gracious and grateful for life.


Let us pray:  Thank you, gracious Lord, that you have called us by name and claimed us as your own.  Ignite the fire of your love in our hearts, that we might live in response to that love in our dealings today with friends, with family, with students, with customers, with business partners.  Give us opportunities to be generous and keep us mindful of those who struggle in life.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.


3 Responses to “Thursday, October 27th. James 2:8-18”

  1. Pat Booth Says:

    Years ago I saw a church banner with the words–“If the song is to be sung, then we must do the singing.” It was hung as
    church music program support. To me it was a metaphor for living as a Christian.

    Glad to have your devotions appearing in my inbox once again. Welcome back.

  2. Randy Nelson Says:

    Also, the unacknowledged works for the glory of God are joyous. A passage in scriptures tells of Jesus healing ten lepers and only one came back to thank Jesus. Again, we can serve others to the glory of God without acknowledgement or thanks from the recipient or others. Doing what Jesus would have us do is joyous in and of itself..

  3. Betty Hamernik Says:

    So glad to have the Daily Devotions back. They are so inspiring. Keep up doing God’s work among us via email..

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