“Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, ‘You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.’” James 2:17–18
Faith is believing and acting as if everything God says is true. This relationship between belief and works often causes confusion. Many Christians go to extremes—either living in passive belief or putting too much emphasis on their works. Both extremes lead to problems. So, how do we find the balance? We develop working faith.
You see, authentic faith does not passively believe, it actively works. The problem with passive faith is that it’s dead. Our lives should exhibit evidence of our faith; proof that we follow Jesus. James goes on to say, “faith without works is useless” (v20). We become ineffective believers when we claim to have faith but display no evidence to back that claim up.
There’s also danger in putting too much emphasis on our works. If we’re not careful, we’ll start to view good deeds as a way of gaining love and approval from God or from others. But remember, working faith is evidence of saving faith—not the earning of it. We also need to guard against doing good deeds to virtue signal or to boost our self-esteem. The motivation behind our works is crucial because it reveals the condition of the heart.
As believers, every good deed should be inspired by unwavering faith in Jesus and in His promises. That’s why Paul commended the Thessalonian church for “your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:3). Our good works are simply an expression of love for the Lord and the eternal hope found in Him.
Do your actions back up what you claim to believe? If you want to be a difference-making Christian then your faith and your works need to go hand-in-hand. Just keep in mind, motive matters. Anything done to make yourself feel or look better is not a work of faith. An effective Christian life starts by developing working faith.