Pastor Edward Brouwer “Show and Tell” James 2:14-26
Show and Tell
Sometime ago I bought an appliance at a yard sale. You never really know if the gizmo you buy will actually work until you plug it in. A perfectly good vacuum cleaner may look great but in order for an appliance to work it must be connected to the power source. So too in our Christian life, we can talk like we believe, but unless we have entrusted ourselves to Christ and have the Spirit living in us–connected to the power source–we won’t be able to do what we are designed to do. We are, as Christians in this world, called to Show and Tell. Be and Do. Designed to share our faith and to demonstrate our faith in real and practical ways. James presents this thesis to Christians then and now.
Read James 2:14-26
James’ argument is that faith without works is dead. Just like a body without a life giving spirit is dead, so too a faith that demonstrates no evidence of life is not a genuine and true faith. Real faith always results in real actions. Talk is cheap James basically writes. You say you’re a Christian but then you don’t help other people. What kind of faith is that? James uses two examples (Abraham and Rahab) from the Scriptures to show that real faith requires real action.
James is arguing against easy believism. It’s the kind of thinking that is strictly intellectual, that costs you nothing in real time in the real world. Sure you say “I believe that Jesus died for my sins and I know that I am going to heaven” but it doesn’t change how you think or act in the world. An example James uses is seeing someone in need and clapping them on the back with empty spiritual words but doing nothing to actually help them! You think that kind of Christianity is worth anything?
James sets up this scenario: he puts these words into the mouth of a skeptic: you show me you’re a Christian by your words alone, and I will show you I am a Christian by my actions alone! He’s saying “so you ‘went forward’ at a church or crusade when you were younger and “became” a Christian, but your life shows zero evidence that you really follow Jesus—well I can show you that by following the teaching of Jesus (but not even putting my faith in Him) I am more a Christian than you are. James is saying that both of these arguments are wrong!
Anyone can say they “believe” but not be a child of God. Even the demons “believe” in Christ. The story of Christ healing the Gaderene demoniac in Mark 5 tells us that the demon Legion said “what have we to do with you Jesus the Son of the Most High God?” James’ point is that anyone can give intellectual assent to Christ as Savior and Lord BUT not truly be transformed by that reality.
True faith produces true fruit. Let’s look first at Rahab. In Joshua we see this woman protecting the Israelite spies. Doing so was treasonous. But she put her faith in the God of Israel, and protected the spies. She was in that moment turning her back on her religion, her people and even her life. She entrusted herself to God and the evidence of her faith was that she sheltered the spies and led them to safety—even lying to protect them! This is the kind of faith that puts everything on the line. Real faith.
And then look at Abraham. He believed God and the promise that God made to him through Isaac that he would become a great nation. God tested his faith. Would Abraham trust God, the Giver of the promise? Or would Abraham trust in the gift—the son–to deliver the promise?
The point is this: faith AND ACTION go hand in hand. Jesus said “abide in me, for apart from me you can do nothing”. It is in connection by faith to the Vine that is Christ, that we are able to produce the fruit (as John the Baptist said in Matt 3) that is in keeping with righteousness.”
My question to you today is this: what is Jesus asking you to give up that not only will demonstrate your faith and trust in him but that will also lead to greater trusting in him? How you use your time? (I don’t want to get too involved in church and ministry because it might impeded on my leisure!) Your security? (I am scared to hangout with homeless people because I feel anxious). Your money? (Well let’s not get too carried away in giving our $$ to charity, I need to keep all of it myself). Maybe God is calling you to give up a friendship, family relationships to go to a far away and scaring place he is calling you too. My friends, we have this faith in Christ and we are meant to tell others about it—and we do so by our words and our actions. Think of faith and action as two parts of a scissor that God is using to cut into the cloth of our life. Which side of the scissor is most important? Both are needed. True faith always demonstrates itself with the true fruit that comes with being connected to Christ who is our life. Yes faith is a gift from God and we don’t earn it, but with that gift comes the expectation and anticipation that we will do the work God has prepared for us to do as we tell others of our faith and show them the transformative power of the gospel.