“You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24)
This verse is not a contradiction of the teaching of the Apostle Paul. James actually wrote before Paul. We might put it this way: “Faith alone can save, but the faith that saves is never alone.” We are justified by faith alone, but our works show that our faith is authentic, because good works always validate true faith. What we really believe we do. All the rest is just religious talk. And nobody needs religious talk without works. This is the essence of what James is writing.
The story is told of the headmaster of a Christian school in the Philippines who was holding chapel with his student body when the Japanese soldiers entered the school. In front of all the students he was ordered by the Japanese to tear down and spit on the American and Christian flags. He refused and was shot in the stomach.
He survived and after the war a news correspondent visited him, and asked him what was going through his mind when he made that decision to be shot rather than do what he had been ordered. His response was, “It occurred to me that a time comes in every man’s life when he must show by his actions what he believes. That was my time.”
James is writing that it is not at one time but at all times we show by our actions what we believe. He is not writing that we are justified by our good works but that authentic faith is always validated by good works.
Are you validating your faith by actions that show what you believe?