Reflection: James emphasises the truth that deeds of mercy for those in need are not a Christian option; they are evidence of genuine faith. The hypothetical Christian here is in danger of their “faith” being proved worthless. Building on his argument from Chapter 1:27 about the nature of true religion, James insists that favouring the rich, with no practical support for the poor, is a hollow imitation of what it means to follow Jesus.
John Wesley, the famous 18th-century preacher, and evangelist dedicated his life to reaching out to the industrial poor of England with the gospel. He preached in the fields; he took the gospel into prisons. As an 82- year-old during an English winter he went begging on the streets of London on behalf of the poor.
Wesley said that without love in action, faith remained hollow and meaningless. He urged people to give to the poor in such a manner as to not take away their dignity. He gave away all his prodigious wealth.
Question: How would you summarise the version of “faith” that James describes here in v14-17?
Prayer: Jesus fill my heart with gratitude for all you have done for me, so that your mercy flows out from me to alleviate the suffering of others. Make me an instrument of your grace in my community and beyond. Amen.