WORKS OF LOVE: FAITH'S EVIDENCE
“But someone will say, 'You have faith and I have works.' Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
// James 2:18
This passage poses a challenging question to us about the credibility and evidence of our faith. However, rather than answering this in the classic tension of good works versus faith, we should rethink the dynamic. Answer the question with a question, if you will. What does the fruit of faith look like and how does that fruit evidence the reality of faith?
James questioned fruitless faith in order to show us that a flow of love from our hearts demonstrates the genuineness of our faith. John pondered the same issue when he asserted, “Whoever claims to love God and hates his brother is a liar…” (1 John 4:20). True faith flows from love, or as Paul put it, “faith works by [alongside] love” (Galatians 5:6). Notice Paul says works by love when describing faith. Putting this all together, we see that for our faith to be genuine, it has to be marked by works of love.
Elsewhere, James says that true religion involves visiting orphans and widows in their distress, to keep oneself unstained by the world (James 1:27). So, when we walk in the works of love, it means we care for others, and that is how we keep ourselves unstained by worldliness. Put differently, we stay blameless and free from “the corruption that is in the world through lust [strong desire]” by walking in love toward others – what Peter called “partaking in the divine nature” (see 2 Peter 1:4).
Walking in works of love — toward God, toward others — proves the genuineness of our faith. When we love others, it proves we love God; when we love others, it makes our faith true and proven. This is another dimension of worship, one that is different from singing songs and raising hands on a Sunday morning, but just as important. We know that our worship on Sundays, and our daily quiet times, is having a genuine effect on us when we are growing in our desire to act in love towards others. Acts of love are the works of faith, and both indicate that worshiping God has changed us into His image.
May our worship of the God who is Love have hands and feet with which to love others today!
// Samuel Nicolosi