James 2:15-17… 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.
Vv.15-17 demonstrates a poor believer coming into a church, without proper clothing and in need of food. The person with dead faith noticed the visitor and saw his needs, but he did not do anything to meet the needs and the visitor went away just as hungry and without proper clothing as he came in! As Believers, we have an obligation to help meet the needs of people, no matter who they may be.
To help a person in need is an expression of love. John emphasized this aspect of good works. “17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” A
Today that need is more likely to be an emotional or spiritual need than a physical need. Our world is full of people who need the kind of help only a Believer in Jesus can provide. The person may be poor or rich and we are not to show favoritism to either, but unconditional love.
The question for people of faith is “are we willing to reclaim our true role in the Bible and provide love and resources”? We do an outstanding job reacting to emergencies like the recent storms but are less responsive for everyday emotional, spiritual and physical needs. B
Vv.15-17 raises a hard question about the faith of people who are not helping the emotional, spiritual and physical needy–do my actions and attitudes indicate my faith is alive.
Notes: A- 1 John 3:17-18; B- In the first 4 centuries the poor were saved in huge numbers and then faced tremendous persecution for their faith. They were expelled from their families and lost their jobs in many cases and many times lost their lives. So it was essential in the time of James and today in many counties for the Believers to form a true community with sharing of resources needed for life. It has been said that the average lifespan of a new convert from Islam is 2-3 weeks if their salvation is revealed.
In the USA in the last 80 years, the church has slowly outsourced the care of the poor to the government with disastrous results. Trillions of dollars have been wasted through inefficiency, corruption, and laws that are counter to Biblical principles. An example would be laws that reward nonmarried couple households. The result has been an increase in what was rewarded.
The priest and Levite in the Parable of the Good Samaritan each had religious training, but neither of them paused to assist the dying man at the side of the road (Luke 10:25-37). Each of them would have defended his faith, but neither demonstrated that faith in loving works.