July 1, 2021

When Talk is Cheap... The Book of James Bible Series


Happy Summer, my friends! I hope its official arrival has brought you some of the best of the season! For me? Well - it's brought swimming with Lil' Miss (yay!), visiting family from out of town (yay!),  and triple-digit heat for so many days in a row I stopped counting (not yay!)!  It's also stirred up a renewed love of and gratefulness for our A/C! (Yay -- Yes and Amen!)

Today we are back again with another installment of our James series! We are diving into some more familiar verses, reading through James Chapter 2, verses 14-17! 

Let's read it together here, starting with The Passion Translation Bible:

"My dear brothers and sisters, what good is it if someone claims to have faith but demonstrates no good works to prove it? How could this kind of faith save anyone? For example, if a brother or sister in the faith is poorly clothed and hungry and you leave them saying, “Good-bye. I hope you stay warm and have plenty to eat,” but you don’t provide them with a coat or even a cup of soup, what good is your faith? So then faith that doesn’t involve action is phony." (The Passion Translation)

 Well, again --James is not one to mince words. The actual translation for the word phony is Dead... Fruitless... We've heard it clearly stated, "Faith without Works is dead." This is what James is so bluntly saying!  In other words, friends, talk is cheap! We can all talk the talk --but are we also walking the walk. Are we putting action to our words and following through so that our faith is something that can be seen? 

I think we have all been guilty of both extremes here if we are believers.  We have said all the right things, even quoted Scripture or said we would pray about something --but our actions (or lack thereof!) spoke louder than our words! And --we'll get to this soon --but I think it may be a safe bet to say that there may have also been times where we got caught up in the doing part, and never really spoke out our faith or the why of why we were helping or serving in the first place! I know I have been guilty of both! 

What James is calling us to here is a balance... we must put both faith and works into action TOGETHER! THAT is when others can most clearly see and hopefully believe that the King and His Kingdom are real!


Let's read it in The Voice:

"Brothers and sisters, it doesn’t make any sense to say you have faith and act in a way that denies that faith. Mere talk never gets you very far, and a commitment to Jesus only in words will not save you. It would be like seeing a brother or sister without any clothes out in the cold and begging for food, and saying, “Shalom, friend, you should get inside where it’s warm and eat something,” but doing nothing about his needs—leaving him cold and alone on the street. What good would your words alone do? The same is true with faith. Without actions, faith is useless. By itself, it’s as good as dead." (The Voice)

I love the footnotes on this portion of scripture in The Voice Bible! They point out how many may think James' focus on works/actions contradicts Pauls' message about how salvation comes by faith alone! However, it says to look carefully and you will see they are talking about different issues! Paul was addressing a riff between the Jewish and the Gentile Christians. The Jews were trying to say the Gentiles should be living according to the law. Paul points out that thanks to God's grace, ALL people are made right by FAITH (and not by the works of the law!)  James, however, is describing Christians helping the poor. That is two different kinds of 'works'! The Footnotes go on to say, (James is) "concerned about a shallow, insincere, and hypocritical faith. Paul describes the root of salvation; a person is saved by God’s grace received through faith. James is explaining the fruit of salvation; saving faith is a faith that works." 

Ya see the difference?


Our verses in The Amplified Bible say:

"What is the benefit, my fellow believers, if someone claims to have faith but has no [good] works [as evidence]? Can that [kind of] faith save him? [No, a mere claim of faith is not sufficient—genuine faith produces good works.] If a brother or sister is without [adequate] clothing and lacks [enough] food for each day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace [with my blessing], [keep] warm and feed yourselves,” but he does not give them the necessities for the body, what good does that do? So too, faith, if it does not have works [to back it up], is by itself dead [inoperative and ineffective].." (The Amplified Bible)

Dead... inoperative and ineffective.  Who wants a faith like that? (Who wants a God like that?) No thanks!  We, as Believers, must back up our words with action! Genuine faith produces good works!

Let's be real for a moment here though! Maybe you're like me and somewhere in the back of your mind, excuses mixed with actually valid reasons are trying to drown out the desire to get to work!  Maybe you are fighting off visions of homeless who don't seem to be able to break the cycle or others who maybe have learned to work the system and go from church to church or ministry to ministry, looking for hand outs or freebies while not looking for a longer term solution! (I know... no judgment here.  I struggle with those thoughts, too!)

Listen - we have a limited budget and while we are blessed and can give some -- we don't have enough to, say, eradicate homelessness in our area.  We don't even have enough to necessarily eradicate it for one person or one family.  But we give as directed by the Holy Spirit --and sometimes, yes, it is to the guy on the corner or the friend running low on funds (--and not necessarily for the first time), or to the neighbor who just had surgery, etc. --but often times it is partnering with organizations who are better equipped to make a larger impact.  

I've said it many times around here - we may not be able to change the whole world... but we are able to change the world for one person... even if only for one day!  

For too long, I believed the lie that felt like truth that my $5 wouldn't make a difference.  But it makes a difference to the one who has nothing. So - whenever I see someone on a corner or notice or hear of a need, I pray --but I don't just say a quick prayer and move on --I pray and ask the Lord if this is a need that I am called to meet. (Notice - I did not say that I am able to meet.  If I am called to it --He will make sure I'm able! Sometimes it may be a stretch -but obeying in faith is always better than disobeying with caution!)

Another thing I am a fan of --in real life and in this space, is healthy boundaries.  This verse does not mean that you give and give and give without question, accountability, or expectation. This does not mean that we are not allowed to have nice things or to put money away. It means that we love with words AND action and we keep the lines of communication open enough that if we are to give - whether it is a sacrifice or not - we will feel the nudge and we will follow through!


Finally, let's wrap it up using another favorite translation: The Message Bible:

"Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?" (The Message Bible)

Thank you, once again, Eugene Peterson! This is the clear, Talk the talk AND Walk the walk verse, isn't it? "Do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything?"  (It's a fair question! And one we must ask ourselves from time to time!)

"God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense!" 


Let's pray: 

Father God, we're so grateful that you are not a man that you should lie and that you are a Man of Your Word! Thank You that You are our example and the One in whom we are called to represent!  Help us to have faith, yes! Help us to talk about our faith and to let those around us know that even if/when we do not have the answers, we know the One Who does!  But let's not stop there with our knowledge and words... help us, Lord, to follow through and put action to what we say! Let our ACTIONS matched with our WORDS be a light shining in the darkness! Let what we say match up with what we do and let that speak volumes to believers and non-believers alike!

Open our hearts and our eyes to see those around us who are in need... let us not be blind to those asking for help and let us not ignore those who are in need but are too afraid or too  embarrased to ask! Holy Spirit - prompt us to step up and step out and meet the need when you have set someone in our path! Give us grace to know when we are to pray and when we are to pray AND act - whether it is to meet the need ourselves, or to connect them with someone who can. More than anything, Jesus, --help us to represent You well! Help us to not be lazy in our faith and not to get caught up in works, thinking it is all up to us or we are doing it on our own! 

Ultimately - every day, in every way, we want to partner with You, Lord! Lead and guide us! Fill and refresh us! Enable us to be a blessing and a light!

In Jesus' Name!


A Gentle Reminder: if you've just joined us or have missed a post or two along the way, you can always go HERE and scroll to the bottom to find each installment of this series as it is published!

As always, until next time, let's purpose to:

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