Today’s readings are Jeremiah 22,23, and 26, Psalm 77, and James 2.
What comes first..the chicken or the egg? Most of us have probably heard this saying implying that you can’t have a chicken without an egg, but you can’t have an egg without the chicken. So, which comes first? James 2 digs into a similar question but with the topic of faith and works.
Christians believe that you go to Heaven by believing, or having faith, that Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of your confessed sins and rose again on Easter (Romans 10:9-11). “Good deeds” don’t get you into Heaven and “good people” don’t go to Heaven if they don’t believe in Jesus. So, some can struggle with James 2:24 which says, “You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.” James 2:17 also says similar, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Are these verses saying just faith in Jesus doesn’t get you to Heaven? Is this saying works get you into Heaven?
I believe Scripture can often best be interpreted by cross referencing other Scripture, and I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that our all-church study verses last week came from 1 John 4 which can provide some more context when paired with James 2.
What compels us to do good works? Put simply…love. 1 John 4:16 says, “God is love.” Reading on in 1 John 4, we see verse 20 states..
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother, whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”
1 John 4:21 follows up verse 20 also stating…
And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
If you truly have faith and love God, then it will show up in your actions. If you say you have faith and love God, but your works don’t show it…then do you really have faith and love God? James is telling us you can’t have one without the other..chicken or egg concept. Your faith in God is made complete by your actions just as in Abraham and Rahab who James references in James 2:23 and James 2:25.
Jesus gives us a great example of this when in John 13 He washed his disciples’ feet which was thought to be such a lowly task that Jews wouldn’t even let their Jewish servants do this for them, only Gentile servants. And of course, Jesus showed us the ultimate act of service when the next day He, the God of the universe in the flesh, gave himself up suffering one of the most gruesome and painful deaths possible through his scourging and Crucifixion on the cross, all so we could be forgiven and live with Him in Heaven.
We love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:19
Let us reflect personally.
- How am I serving my family?
- How am I serving my church?
- How am I serving my neighbors or community?
- How am I serving my friends?
- How am I serving those who can do nothing for me in return?
Pick one you can improve on and let us complete our faith in action.