CityLight Church’s One Year Bible Reading Plan
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Commentary from Pastor Michael White:
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:26). Can faith be genuine if it does not inspire works? James certainly seems to think so. But how does that reconcile with Paul’s comments that righteousness comes by faith alone (Gal 3:6)? Do I need faith, or works? Do I need both?
We must understand the audience that each of the New Testament writers was addressing. Paul was speaking to Gentiles: people who did not know Jewish law, and had not tasted a life of righteousness by works. Paul’s plea was to accept Jesus Christ by faith, and not take part in any counterfeit to salvation that would have us attempt to achieve righteousness by works.
James was addressing Jewish converts: those who knew Jewish law, and had grown tired of a life of righteousness by works. If not properly addressed, these Jewish believers might have grown complacent in their responsibility to demonstrate their faith outwardly with works. James’ intent was never to persuade Gentiles to earn their righteousness; but rather to remind Jews to share it to others.
When we have genuine faith in Jesus Christ, our works will be evidence of our faith. We will be so overcome by love and affection for our Messiah that we cannot help but work to expand His kingdom. We will work because we get to; never because we have to.
Father, I want my faith to be demonstrated by good works. Help me to understand the fine line between rest and complacency. Help me to understand the even thinner divide between work and overcompensation!