What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works. – James 2:14-26 (NLT)
We have many personal preconceptions that protect us from physical harm, such as being careful when crossing a busy highway. Much of our personal preconceptions are rooted in faith rather than experience. As such, we normally don’t recklessly run across a busy highway because we have taken that danger of doing so on faith. What good is it to believe the dangers of crossing a busy street and then recklessly doing so? This kind of faith is worthless.
It’s this relationship, in which faith strongly influences someone’s actions, that James is highlighting in this passage of scripture, and one’s actions should be a strong indicator of their faith. In our example, we can find value in our faith when we use it to keep us from being hurt when we cross a busy intersection.
Christians understand that we cannot go back in time to see the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ Jesus. Creditable evidence exists that Christ Jesus was historically a man who lived and crucified on a cross by the Romans and who God resurrected from death. Christian faith doesn’t rest on historical evidence alone. Christian faith rests in the growing relationship we have with God, which is possible by indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Without a personal relationship with God the father, personal change is impossible, faith would be worthless, and all that is left is a hollow, worthless religion.
God asked each person, through the Biblical story, to make a choice between believing in God and not believing in God. I have seen God change new believers almost overnight when they truly accept God’s truth, and their actions following that day is evidence of their change in believes.