True faith makes a difference is the chorus repeating itself in my mind every time I think about the book of James. I was a teenager when my pastor at the time (still my pastor in many ways), exposited the book of James, one verse at a time, to a relatively young convert sitting in the pew every Sunday. At the same time, the book of James was forced into the memory of that young believer through family Bible memorisation (that’s when I realised that an entire chapter is easier to memorise than scattered verses!). But of all the input from the book of James that I so graciously received, there is one sentence that echoes like a broken record in my mind since that first immersion into that book. Although I am very familiar with the book, I cannot recall the exact wording as I once had, but the series of sermons on the book etched this summary statement into my mind, Lord willing, for the rest of my life: True faith makes a difference.
In a ‘worldly Christianity’ where many claimed to be a Christian but nobody really lived profoundly different to the world, this simple summary statement of the book of James is an anchor for true faith that is given to us throughout the Scriptures. True faith makes a difference. For example, Philippians 2:14-15 shows how true believers do not grumble and complain like the world. Another example of this would be what Jesus taught in Matthew 6:31-33, that true believers do not worry like the world. True faith makes a difference.
In the book of James this theme is like a beam of light touching on every area of our lives. Just like the book of Proverbs deals with many different topics, but ties them all together with the spiritual realities of true wisdom taught in its initial chapters, so the book of James touches on many different topics, but ties them all together with the spiritual realities of the works of true faith. In James’ imagery, “living faith works; workless faith is dead faith” (James 2:14-26).
Matching the practical insight and value of Proverbs, James shows us that true faith makes a difference,
- in how we respond to difficulties (1:2-12)
- in how we understand the source of evil and the source of good (1:13-18)
- in what we consider true spirituality (1:19-27)
- in how we treat all our neighbours (2:1-13)
- in how we understand the foundational principle of faith in action (2:14-26)
- in the way we speak (3:1-12)
- in our relationships (3:13-18)
- in how we deal with our sin and the sin of others (4:1-12)
- in how we make plans (4:13-17)
- in how we handle our finances (5:1-7)
- in how we remain faithful till Jesus returns (5:7-12), and
- in how we stay busy with kingdom work (5:13-20).
Is your faith making this kind of difference in your life? May God make it so!