If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
Faith without works is dead; it is alone. That is a strong statement, for sure. Previously we discussed the idea of a verbal only type of faith. This, again, would be a verbal and/or mental profession of faith. James continues on with his point that this faith likely is not a true saving faith. Only this time, James uses a very practical example to illustrate his point.
At some point in the next few devotionals we may take a look at some of the possible things James means in his references to dead faith, or faith being dead; for now however, we are just looking at this very specific scenario.
Suffice it to say that simple verbal faith can only not save; it cannot serve. But, let’s jump right into what has actually happened in our passage.
This one is easy. A needful brother has shown up at a believer’s doorstep, quite obviously in need; naked and destitute is needy for sure. But, rather than providing some actual assistance for the need, the believer has sent them away with good tidings and a promise of prayer.
As many would say in today’s vernacular…..really? Did we actually do any good whatsoever for that brother or sister in need? Well, of course not. When we sent them away promising prayer the question should be asked: What if they showed up at our doorstep as the answer to somebody’s prayer who could not help the needful brother or sister?
Why would such a thing happen? Why would anybody send a needy brother or sister away and not offer actual help, but simply empty words? Well, John the Apostle also had something to say about this in 1 John 3:17 “ But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”
What did John just say, and what did James basically repeat? If we claim that God dwells in us(salvation), and we do not act accordingly(works) , then our claim that God dwells in us might be simply false.