James (W5D4) Useless
Week 5. Thursday: Useless
PRAY: Ask God to speak to you from His Word.
READ: James 2:20-23
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.
UNDERSTAND: get a deeper understanding of the key words
You foolish person: James is showing us the definition of being foolish much like the Proverbs do in the Old Testament. A fool is someone who knows the right thing to do but continues to do the wrong thing anyway (Proverbs 22:3; 26:11). Therefore, saying we trust in God while not following His word is foolish.
Evidence: A better translation might be, “Do you want me to prove this for you?” James is not teaching his opinion. He is teaching us that faith without works is certainly and absolutely not genuine faith.
Faith without deeds is useless: James uses the Greek word argos for useless. This word is also used to describe being lazy and shunning things that ought to be done. Therefore, faith without deeds is lazy, useless, and ultimately worthless.
Abraham considered righteous for what he did: God told Abraham to sacrifice his son as a test of his faith (Genesis 22:1-18). God will often ask us to do things that are painful and difficult to refine our faith. It is how God makes our faith stronger.
His faith and his actions were working together: James is not teaching that Abraham’s actions provided his salvation. James is teaching that our actions should demonstrate that we have been saved. Faith and actions should work together to show our faith to be complete.
Credited to him as righteousness: James is quoting Genesis 15:6. Abraham’s faith resulted in immediate action. That kind of faith is credited to us as righteousness. We are right with God when our faith in Him is genuine in our everyday lives.
APPLY: What is this passage calling me to do?
Do your actions match what you say you believe? Why or why not?
PRAY: Ask God to reveal to you whether or not your faith is genuine, saving faith.