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What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can this kind of faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm and eat well,” but you do not give them what the body needs, what good is it? So also faith, if it does not have works, is dead being by itself. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith without works and I will show you faith by my works. You believe that God is one; well and good. Even the demons believe that—and tremble with fear.
Yesterday in Galatians 3, we saw Paul making a point to the Galatian church to not add anything to the gospel message - specifically, works of the law. Today, James is making a point about good deeds done through a saving faith in Jesus Christ. The point is basically this: faith that is not accompanied by good deeds is a dead faith. While we are not saved by works, the grace that we are saved by comes with a faith that pronounces the work of the Holy Spirit in us...resulting in good deeds that bear fruit.
Brothers and sisters, I offer an example from everyday life: When a covenant has been ratified, even though it is only a human contract, no one can set it aside or add anything to it. Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his descendant. Scripture does not say, “and to the descendants,” referring to many, but “and to your descendant,” referring to one, who is Christ. What I am saying is this: The law that came four hundred thirty years later does not cancel a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to invalidate the promise. For if the inheritance is based on the law, it is no longer based on the promise, but God graciously gave it to Abraham through the promise.
Paul is speaking to the church in Galatia, warning them about adding things to the gospel message. Jesus is the promise to Abraham. In Christ we are not bound to any requirement of the Old Testament law, but are saved by grace through faith alone in Christ alone. "Works of the law" need not accompany our faith in order to validate it. Deeds flow from an authentic faith in Christ Jesus (James 2:14-26). Faith does take action...and it produces fruit.
But as God’s servants, we have commended ourselves in every way, with great endurance, in persecutions, in difficulties, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in troubles, in sleepless nights, in hunger, by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by benevolence, by the Holy Spirit, by genuine love, by truthful teaching, by the power of God, with weapons of righteousness both for the right hand and for the left, through glory and dishonor, through slander and praise; regarded as impostors, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well-known; as dying and yet—see!—we continue to live; as those who are scourged and yet not executed; as sorrowful, but always rejoicing, as poor, but making many rich, as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart has been opened wide to you.
When considering the responsibility of a servant of God, take into account these items that Paul brings to light. Have you opened your hearts and mouths to those around you, that they may know Jesus Christ? This is also an encouragement for both leaders and everyone. To leaders: the call to lead comes with great responsibility which you will be held accountable to. To everyone: pray for your leaders for that very same reason. Lift them up! Come alongside of them to make their service a pleasure and benefit for all to the glory of God!
But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, so that no one can boast in his presence. He is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Nehemiah, a servant, was chosen to rebuild Jerusalem. David, the youngest of 8 brothers and shepherd, anointed King of Israel. Jesus chooses a few fisherman and a tax collector to run together as His disciples, performing miracles, signs and wonders in His name. Even Jesus Himself took a road that looked foolish to most everyone around Him, yet where would we be if He didn't? The foolish heart ruthlessly trusts, and this is one reason why we must all be fools for Christ. (1 Corinthians 4:10) Christ is the wisdom that shames the mighty.
From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, to Timothy, my genuine child in the faith. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord!
Today's verse is all about the body of Christ being a family that is strong in relationship with one another. This kind of strength in relationship takes on the responsibility of training one another up in Christ. Likewise, it displays the humility and maturity to receive instruction and learn from others who exercise their faith. Both are necessary for the church to thrive and be always effective. Lead and teach with humility; learn with fervor and respect.