“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” —James 1:27
James speaks of three aspects seen in what we do that give evidence to our living by faith. They are compassion, compliance with God and the courage to act in faith.
God is not looking for meticulous Bible study, though that is important. He is looking for compassion. James writes, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’, you are doing right” (2:8). In relationship with God, people will see in us an expression of what God is like, because His character is imparted to us. If we put faith in something passive, we will experience it passively, but if we put faith in something active, we join in the activity of the object of our faith. God is active, and our faith in Him unites us to His activity on earth, and we become workers together with Him.
Compliance with God is our obedience to Him. James writes, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness…” (2:23). Because Abraham trusted and obeyed God, it was credited to him as righteousness. The first act of faith is passive. “God has promised. I trust Him to do it,” but the second is an active faith in which he obeyed God, even to the point of sacrificing his son. God tested Abraham’s faith, and with Isaac bound on the altar, He intervened and stopped him. A period of testing will come in all our lives. There is first a passive faith where we recognize Christ died for our sins, and we say, “Thank You,” but it then moves to an active, obedient faith in which we are compliant to the will of God.
The third evidence of living by faith in God is courage. Verse 25 says, “…was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction?” At risk to her life, Rahab hid two Israelite spies in her home, displaying more faith in God than the spies did. She believed their God had already given them victory over Jericho, and that He was both God in heaven and on earth. The spies were skeptical of the God on earth and not convinced of victory. Rahab’s faith in the God of Israel was greatly evidenced in her courage to act.
Faith in God is active faith. When caught up in the activity of God, we are compassionate in our work, compliant in our obedience to God, and completely dependent on Him; we act in courage. This is living by faith and demonstrates the life of Jesus Christ is in us.
Prayer: Lord, help me to live a life of faith in which my works demonstrate compassion, compliance to Your will, and the courage to act. Thank You, Lord.