Good deeds and right living don’t earn our salvation, but they do confirm it
Paul writes to his friends in Thessalonica. He reminds them—and us—that salvation is a gift from God. We can’t earn it and can only receive it through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). But it seems that many people do try to earn their salvation through their actions, by living in right ways and doing good works for others.
James helps us put this into perspective. Though our actions don’t earn our right standing with God, they do prove it.
He asks, “How can I see your faith apart from your actions?” He goes on to say, “I’ll show you my faith by putting it into practice. You’ll know my faith is real by the things that I do,” (see James 2:18).
From God’s perspective, our actions don’t earn us anything. Yes, doing good may earn us attention from other people. We can receive appreciation from those we help and admiration from those who watch us. Yet to God our good works don’t matter.
Then why should we bother?
It’s through our right behavior and what we do to help others that we prove we have faith. By putting our faith into action, we demonstrate that it’s real. Faith without works is dead.
We don’t act in certain ways to garner God’s favor. Instead, the things we do emerge from our gratitude for what he has done for us. Think of our actions as a tangible way of saying “thank you” to God for the gift he gave us.
By his grace and through our faith, we receive salvation. We need nothing more. But if we truly appreciate this gift of what he has done for us, then we show him by what we do.
We put our faith into action. And that honors God.
[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is James 1-3, and today’s post is on James 2:18.]
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.
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