If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?” vss. 15-16James 2:14-17
Many followers of Jesus are familiar with the slogans, “grace alone, faith alone, and scripture alone.” But they’ve probably never ever heard anyone say, “works alone!” It seems a contradictory phrase, one that doesn’t fit with the spirit of the Reformation, and yet that’s exactly what James is saying here. (Which is why Martin Luther would have preferred to leave the book of James out of the bible!) James had seen what people were doing in their congregations–to put it in another way, they talked the talk, but they didn’t walk the walk! And he’s right! Forget about proper theology and complex theories of atonement, if we’re not doing something about the physical needs of hurting people before we start preaching at them, we’ve missed the point of Jesus. God bless those congregations who work closely with social service organizations to help the broken and needy. God bless those politicians who put the poor at the top of their legislative agenda. God bless each of us when we gladly share our wealth with those who need it the most. If we don’t do all we can to meet the bodily needs of others, “what is the good of that”?
James could not be more clear–and he too lived by grace!
Thought for the Day: What is at the top of most political agendas?