What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? (James 2:14- 20, NLT)
Holla everyone!! Welcome back to SHEISALLIN.
I am so excited to talk to you about what the Lord has been revealing to me through this section of James 2!
Ya’ll, God is so GOOD. Let me lay it out for you.
This week, as I was reading the end of James 2, James 2:14-26, I found myself in conversation with God about a topic I talk to God about pretty often: the needy and the homeless community. Here in Northampton, Massachusetts where I go to school, I often find that I see many of the same people in Northampton who are homeless or in a situation of need. When I go home in New York, there is also rarely ever a time where I get on the subway and someone is not asking for money. The idea that I have to give and someone else is in need has been one that has been heavy on my heart for a long time, and I find myself asking God a lot about wise ways to give.
This scripture encouraged me and convicted me in a way that I haven’t had for a while because as a Christian, I am called to give, but something has been hindering me from doing so. In this specific context, James is saying that faith leads to these good deeds, and it is my faith that gives me the desire to give. So what, something other than a lack of faith, has been holding me back?
You see, I’m a very type A person, and I have been thinking so much about the “best” way to give and the “wisest” way to give. This semester, I have been very blessed financially because of Res Life and other commitments, but growing up, I was always told that it is wise to keep my money for myself and let another give to the needy or let them fend for themselves. But, as we see, God calls us NOT to do that. So I began to think up a whole bunch of ideas, like getting granola bars or buying clothes for the winter, because I knew that I was called to give but was still not comfortable in being free in my giving. This led me to walking away from people who could have benefitted from a helping hand.
I am taking a course for my Community Engagement and Social Change concentration here at school, where every week we have different lecturers come in and talk to us about their work in the community. This week, we had the pleasure of hearing from two volunteers, who began a homeless shelter here in Northampton. I admired them, and loved them for the way that they gave without fear and with generosity. After class, I asked one of the presenters the question that I have been asking God: “How do I give wisely?” I can hear all of the people back home in New York telling me that no, not everyone needs the money, that some use it for things that are not too good, and that the money is better used on myself and my family. But you know what she said? She said that “if you see a need, do your best to meet it.”
2 Corinthians 9:6-8 says this: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
My reluctance has held me back much too long, so when I see a need and can somehow meet it, whether it’s lunch or a smile, I’m called to do the work in giving cheerfully because of the faith that I profess.
I still believe there are wiser ways of supporting the homeless community, but like James says in verse 16, doing nothing at all does no good.
You see, God is a giver, giving us His one and only Son so that whosoever believes in Him would be reconciled to God and have eternal life. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19, John 3:16). So, friend, what are some ways that you can be practicing giving this week? How can we give just as we have been given?
Some more questions, how has God spoken to you through your reading and studying of this section of James? How are you being called to live out the faith that you profess? If you aren’t Christian, I hope that these posts will help you to know the God that loves you always, and longs to give and provide for you.