Faith Means Action

Key Verse: “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
—James 1:22

Lesson Scriptures:
James 1:19 – 2:26;

THE APOSTLE JAMES encouraged the development of faith and emphasized that praying to God was to be done in faith. He did not want anyone to interpret the development of faith as passive. On the contrary, he emphasized that faith without works “is dead.” (James 2:17) He used the illustration of brethren being in need of shelter and food, and if these are told to have faith but are not given shelter, clothing or food they will not be able to receive the spiritual words of comfort. Hence, faith alone is not enough. There must be action to support it.

He emphasized the importance of the ‘royal law’ of love, taken from Leviticus 19:18, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” This is brought to our attention by reminding us of the typical human failing wherein preferential treatment is given to the rich and well-known, while the poor are shamefully treated. We should not be partial toward anyone, but have equal love for all the brethren.

James calls this law a “royal law” (James 2:8) because it is the law of the King of the universe, namely God the great supreme Creator. It is also a royal law because it belongs to the one designated to be King of Kings and Lord of Lords. (Rev. 19:16) This is the law of God’s kingdom to be established on earth. The citizens of that kingdom are to put this law into practice and become doers of the Word.

The wrong application of God’s Word is likened to hearing the Word and not doing, or acting upon it. Those who look into the perfect law of liberty and patiently remember what they see, or hear God’s Word and put into practice those things they have heard, will be blessed in their doing.

As people hear God’s Word they develop a religion. James reminds us that if we think of ourselves as being religious—attenders to God’s Word—our religion would be worthless if we failed to control our tongue. He then defines pure religion as being when we look after widows and orphans in their distress, and are kept from being polluted by the world. This is a simple definition of religion, but again it highlights the action that must be taken as we hear God’s Word.—James 1:26,27

In each of these lessons of faith in action the example of those in need was used. If we are to please God we must supplement our faith by the action we would expect him to take. We must help those in need and distress.

Towards the end of chapter 5, the Apostle James reviews the lesson of patience and endurance for those enduring trials, and cites the examples and life experiences of faithful men of old, such as Job and Elijah. He then gives advice to those experiencing difficulties in fighting the lust of the flesh and Satan’s attacks. He advocates use of prayers for one another. Many have supposed that James was alluding to physical sickness when he asked, “Is any sick among you?” (James 5:14) He was alluding to spiritual sickness because, after using prayer to restore such an one, James also adds, “If he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” (vs. 15) As he mentions at the conclusion of his letter, those who err from the Truth and are converted through prayers escape death and a multitude of sins.—vss. 19,20

Dawn Bible Students Association
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