May 03, 2021 – Monday
James 2:20-24 NIV
20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?
21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.
23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.
24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
Friday, we looked at verse 19 and the two preceding verses as well as part of the ‘discussion’ James was putting forth on faith and deeds/works. Today we see James continuing that discussion and he begins with a question in verse 20, You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Then he begins his answer with another question in the very next verse – 21, Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? Then in verse 22, he states his answer, You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.
However, that was not sufficient for James, so he quoted Genesis 15:6 as he continued his answer in the next verse, And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. What James has done is he used the story of Abraham and Isaac to illustrate what living faith is really like and that faith without deeds is just talk that cannot save. In modern vernacular one might faith without deeds is like someone who talks the talk but does not walk the walk.
Guzik adds, Abraham was justified by faith long before he offered Isaac. But his obedience in offering Isaac demonstrated that he really did trust God. Then Clarke tells us, Here is a proof that faith cannot exist without being active in works of righteousness. His faith in God would have been of no avail to him, had it not been manifested by works. One more quote, this time from Spurgeon, The grace that does not change my life will not save my soul.
Now return to verse 23 and observe it was said of Abraham, and he was called God’s friend. Real friends, close friends, love and trust each other. With this in mind MacLaren states, Unless I trust God I cannot be a friend of God’s. If you and I are His friends we trust Him, and He will trust us. For this friendship is not one-sided, and the name, though it may be ambiguous as to whether it means one whom I love or one who loves me, really includes both persons to the compact; and there are analogous, if not identical, emotions in each. So that, if I trust God, I may be sure that God trusts me, and, in His confidence, leaves a great deal to me; and so ennobles and glorifies me by His reliance upon me.
Thus, we are left with a question we can only answer for real in our individual hearts, Do I trust God. Do I really trust Him even when bad stuff happens in my life? Sometimes really bad stuff? Sometimes bad stuff happens to keep us from being hardhearted and unempathetic to others who are hurting. Without having been in the fire ourselves we cannot help others to not only survive the fire, but to trust God as we do or have learned to do. Hard questions perhaps, but if we do trust and act out our faith incredible rewards await us with our Father.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Help me to trust You in the bad times as I do so easily in the good times. Let me not forget You in the good times when I might not think I need You, but I do. I always need You. Always. Please do not let me get so comfortable I begin to forget You and all You have done for me and those I love. Let me always be aware You are the author of all the blessings in my life. – In Jesus’ Name. Amen.