Where Are Your Works?


James 2:14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can [n]that faith save him?” A question I hope to encourage you all with today is where are your works?

One of the great beauties of our Christian faith is how much it’s about what good we can do for others. It’s when we all do good for each other, we can all enjoy good things in life. What’s striking about what James said in verse 14, is that he even ties works to saving faith. We can have life through our faith in Christ, but without works, according to James in verse 17, it’s dead. The Thayer’s Greek Lexicon goes into specific detail about what works means here. We’ll get into that later

But we see a strong importance placed in acting on our faith. Let’s dig a little deeper into the context of James 2:14.

James 2:14 Context

Prior to verse 14, James talks about judgment being merciless to the one who has shown no mercy. Judgment being mentioned in the verse prior to verse 14, which mentioned faith that saves, is something I strongly encourage you to ponder with understanding what verse 14 is saying. But let’s look at the meaning of the word mercy in the Greek.

The Greek Word for mercy is eleos. It means “of uncertain affinity; compassion (human or divine, especially active)”. Those who show no compassion towards others, judgment will show no compassion towards them. You might be thinking when you read that, what kind of compassion? The verse after James 2:14 gives us a clue.

James 2:15-17 states, “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, [o]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 [p]dead, being by itself.


How many of us if one of our Christian brothers or sisters were hungry and without much clothing would we help give them what they need? Or would we just tell them be warmed and filled while quietly thinking, “you got yourself into this, so I pray you find a way to deal with this on your own.” Giving help to our fellow Christian brothers or sisters we see need is what works is being understood as here. James 2:17 seems to make our service to our brothers and sisters in need bigger than just something we’re instructed to do. It’s tied to our faith having any life at all, and thus having any salvation for us at all.

Works of the Law don’t save

You might be thinking, wait a second, I thought we weren’t saved by works? That’s right. We’re not saved by works of the law, which were specific instructions the Jews had to uphold. Apostle Paul is careful to specify that whenever he mentions what kind of works do not justify a person. Romans 3:28 states, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.”

But works mentioned here is talking about acts of service to our fellow Christian brothers and sisters in need. If you look at Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, it does put it’s meaning of this word “works” for this verse in a distinctive category of acts. And it reflects many other writings in scripture that encourage us in that direction. The collection gifts that are collected in 1 Corinthians 16:1 were given to the poor. That’s according to Greek meaning of the word used for collection. In Acts 2, one of the first things converted Christians did was gather their possessions together, sell them, and sharing everything together with whatever need anyone had.

This is a serious question you have to consider. If we see so much talk of faith being dead, faith that saves, judgment showing no mercy tied with works in this passage, what does that mean? What I hope I’m getting you to see is that God’s desire of us to act out our compassion to one another in our faith is more than just an instruction. It’s critical to our salvation in the end.

How amazing is it that God made giving food, giving clothes, and giving whatever our hands can extend to our Christian family in need, all a part of being alive and saved in faith? That’s as beautiful as any nature scenery you could ever see.


Peace to you all in Christ.


12 thoughts on “Where Are Your Works?

    1. Hi Carly. Thanks for your comment. James 2 is specifically referencing good works to those in need who are in Christ. We do extend good will to all people of course, but this passage in particular is talking about helping those who are in Christ that are in need. To your question based on your comment, it sounds like you’re saying works are not responsible for our opportunity to have salvation. That’s accurate to scripture. Christ is responsible for us having the opportunity for salvation. What I’m emphasizing here is what’s a part of the process of receiving that salvation. James questions whether the faith of someone who does not exercise works (helping our fellow Christians in need) in their life is saved in verse 14. And he answers his own question in verse 17, that faith without works is dead. He is critical of those who just merely believe in God by expressing they’re just the same as demons. He uses Abraham as an example that his deeds made his faith in God complete. Our deeds (being helpful of our fellow Christians in need) make our faith in God complete, and thus our salvation complete.

      Peace in Christ

      1. Thanks for the long response. I understand what you are saying. I was just trying to add to what you were saying. Maybe I didn’t articulate it correctly but I understand there is a process for nonbelievers according to James 2 and other Bible verses. Thanks reiterating it. 😀

      2. No, the chapter has nothing to do with sharing salvation to non-believers. It’s about believers living their faith in acts of compassion that helps the needs of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as a part of receiving our salvation. 🙂

  1. “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Heb 10:23-25)

    1. Amen, cpministries. May we all continue to provoke each other to love and good works.

      Peace in Christ

    1. Hi CRM, thanks for your comment. What do you mean by dangerously close to Catholic doctrine?

      Peace in Christ

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