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 2:18 (NRSV)
In the film classic, The Wizard of Oz, the Tin Woodsman wanted a heart. After Dorothy’s dog, Toto, pulls back the curtain, the Great and Powerful Oz is revealed to be a mere mortal. He is now faced with granting the requests he had promised to do for the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman and the Cowardly Lion as well as Dorothy. When he comes to the Tin Woodsman, the Wizard says, “Back where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called Good Deeds Doers.” The wizard admits that they have something the Tin Woodsman doesn’t have and that is a testimonial. He presents the Tin Woodsman with a ticking heart as a testimonial to accompany his good deeds.
Our good deeds or works are responses to our faith! Faith and works go together. In this passage James cites Abraham who was willing to sacrifice his son to demonstrate his faithfulness and obedience to God. Abraham would not have been willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, if he did not have faith.
James also cites Rahab the prostitute who was justified when she shielded the Israelite spies from their enemies and then sent them away by a different road. She put herself and her family at great risk by this action. In the eyes of her country’s leaders, she would have been regarded as a traitor. She exhibited her faith by acting on it … doing what she believed God wanted her to do. Faith found expression in her actions.
Our good deeds or works will not save us. We are saved by grace through faith. Our good deeds or works are our responses to our faith and are evidence of our gratitude for our salvation. When we contribute to 3 Cents a Meal … when we visit someone lonely or sick … when we offer prayers and speak words of encouragement … when we bag lunches or serve at the Soup Kitchen, we do these things in response to our faith … to show our gratitude for our salvation. Faith and works … works and faith … these go together!
Thank you, Lord for the gift of salvation. Thank You for showing us ways to put our faith into action. Amen.