If we believe that this passage in James promotes a works-based salvation, it would contradict and put down the teachings of the apostle Paul and of Jesus Christ Himself. We believe that we are not saved by the good deeds or works that we do or have done, but by the amazing grace of God and the redemption of His Son on the cross. These verses are simply saying that after we get saved, we mustn’t be lazy, disobedient, or cautiously hesitant in our walk of faith. We must be strong and of good courage (Deut. 31:6) in our walk with the Lord and not be afraid to do what God wants us to do.
In this passage, we are given two examples of people in the Bible who chose to show their faith to the Lord Jesus through their works. They were not saved by their works. They were simply showing God how much faith they really had by being obedient to what His plan for their life was.
The first example given was Abraham. In Genesis 22, Abraham was given the incredibly horrifying task of sacrificing his only son to the glory of God. I don’t know if even the most extraordinary heroes of faith of this day and age would even dream about doing something like this if the Lord asked them to, but Abraham did anyway. Of course, he must’ve been very confused, scared, and even angry with the Lord (I know I would be), but he did it anyway. Because he had faith. He had faith that God would have His perfect will and provide his every need. He knew that even if God took his son’s life, he would not be truly happy or fulfilled until he had done what God wanted and asked him to do. Isn’t that how us Christians need to be? We should be ready to do whatever God wants us to do, go wherever God wants us to go, and be whoever God wants us to be. We should walk fearlessly in our faith and not worry if God is going to take care of us because He always will! When God gives us a task, we need to show Him we mean business! If your job is to clean the church, don’t grumble and complain. Clean it like you’ve never cleaned anything before! If your job is to welcome visitors at your church, don’t do it like you’re the most miserable person on earth. Let them know you are happy that they are there. Do it wholeheartedly! Do every task as if it’s the last thing you’ll ever do for Jesus. God will use anyone, but he will especially use a vessel that’s willing and enthusiastic. Even if the task is hard or scary (like Abraham’s) we should always obey and do it with our whole heart.
The next person given is Rahab. Abraham was scared in what God asked him to do and so was Rahab. In Joshua 2, we all know the story of Rahab the harlot and her acts of faith. She hid two of Joshua’s spies in her home because she knew that their God was the one true God and that He was the only one who could save her. When Rahab was hiding the spies, she must have been terrified. What if the officers found them? She would be killed for treason or imprisoned for the rest of her life, but she did it anyway. She proved her faith to God and showed Him that she meant business. This act of faith gave her a place in the “Heroes of Faith” section of Hebrews 11. Again, we cannot be scared to do what God wants us to do. He will provide. A lot of people want faith but not a lot of people actually want to “do” their faith. Faith is a choice. You choose to follow God. You choose to obey God. You choose to trust God. Have you been cautiously restraining your walk with God due to fear or unwillingness in your life? Ask God to help you as you as you choose to walk out on faith and pursue a life of fulfillment in faith through your works.