Today’s Scripture: What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. James 2:14–17

Can faith alone save us? On a cold November night in Times Square, a shoeless, homeless man begged for money. A police officer noticed the poor man’s blistered feet and bought him socks and a pair of all-weather boots for $75. Then he helped the beggar put the socks and boots on his feet. A tourist who worked in law enforcement in her home state took a picture of the officer’s act of kindness and sent it to the New York Police Department. The police department posted this picture on its social network. Two days later, nearly 2 million people from all around the world had seen it.

The kind policeman’s response to the needy beggar went a lot farther than any comforting words he could have offered. That’s because people can see our compassion through our actions better than they can see it in the things we say. As the saying goes, talk is cheap. This is why the book of James says faith without works is dead. James is not talking about salvation, but Christian service. The only way people will see that we have faith in God is through our works. If our faith doesn’t work, then it is dead or worthless to them.

Faith alone will save us, but it won’t do anyone else good if it doesn’t work. When your unsaved neighbor is at the hospital because she just had a heart attack, you can either tell her you’re praying for her and God will take care of her, or you can make time to go and visit her. Which would best meet her needs? Which would she appreciate more? Which would show your faith works? Do the same for a friend who’s discouraged, a family member with a prodigal son or daughter, a new person at church, or a busy cashier at the store. Show the world your faith works today.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder