Today’s Reading: James 1:19-2:17
Alexander Graham Bell was an amazingly talented person. He invented the multiple telegraph, the audiometer – which is used to test your hearing, the tricycle landing gear you find on planes, and a host of other less well-known machines. In addition to this, he was the cofounder of the prestigious magazine Science, served as President of the National Geographic Society, and spent his life working with deaf people. But most famous of all his creations was the telephone. It also made his family and his descendants enormously wealthy. But he almost lost it all. You see Bell never seemed to get around to submitting a patent application. Finally, his father-in-law, who had financed a lot of the research, got so impatient that he filed the patent on Bell’s behalf on the 14th of February 1876, Bell’s 29th birthday. And it was a good thing he did, because just a few hours later, another scientist by the name of Elisha Gray went to the patent office to get a patent on a machine he’d been working on for many years – you guessed it, the telephone. This story reminds us that sometimes it’s not enough simply to have great ideas. We need to act on them. Bell and his father-in-law are a good example of the relationship between faith and works. Bell had faith in his telephone but did nothing about it. His father-in-law had faith and works to go with it.
James here in this passage expands on what it truly means to be hearers and doers of the word, what it means for us to “be real” about our lives.
James shows us that faith and works are ultimately two sides of the same coin. Three times in this passage (17, 20, 26) he repeats his thesis “faith without works is dead” In this James is stating clearly that “empty faith” is not true faith, not saving faith, it is nothing more that mouthing words. James sets out to convey to us that our faith in God and trust in Jesus must work in tandem with our actions, or our faith isn’t really faith at all.
James sets out to show us that our faith in God and our trust in Jesus must work in tandem with our actions, or our faith isn’t really faith at all.