Just like a good tree will bear good fruit and a bad tree will only produce poor fruit (Matthew 7:16-17)…our walk with the Lord is all about fruit production. You may have a hundred Bible verses memorized, but if you never put them into usable application…what good are they? Here James is saying, I will show you my faith by taking what I learned and witnessed about the Lord Jesus Christ and put it into practical action. In other words, a work-less faith is a worthless faith when at the end of the day there is no fruit (good works) to show for it.
In this letter to Titus, Paul is encouraging him to exhort the early Church in Crete to, “do what is good.” Now earlier in this Chapter Paul plainly lays out what this means for Titus…submit to authority, be obedient, peaceable, considerate, and humble. So how does this apply to us today? When we put our faith in Jesus Christ we become His hands and feet to not only proclaim the Good News of the Gospel to the world, but to represent Him to others. And in doing so emulating His character and attributes. So hopefully when people look at us-they see Jesus.
All of us have been guilty of this. We encounter someone with a urgent physical need…we can’t help but see it and understand the gravity. But what do we do? We walk away, but not before sanctimoniously announcing, “I’ll pray for you.” I can almost see Jesus shaking His head in disappointment. We have blown a chance to show His love through our good deeds. For our faith manifests itself in these good works…demonstrating to the person we’re helping in very tangible ways that God loves them. We are called to be the hands and feet of Jesus…and by our actions His caring is shown to others.
Even though Ralph Waldo Emerson grappled with his faith, one of his quotes fits this Scripture very well. He said, ” The purpose of life isn’t to be happy. It’s to be useful, honorable, compassionate, and to have made some kind of difference that you’ve lived and lived well.” This living our life worthy is also found in Ephesians 4:1, where Paul wrote, “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you’ve received.” For when we conduct our life filled with good works and wisdom – God’s perfect plan and purpose will be fulfilled…and in the end we’ll have made a difference in the world.
Throughout the Book of James we see him arguing the difference between faith and active faith. Just believing in God, he says, isn’t enough…for even the demons believe in God. (James 2:19) What the Lord demands from us is to demonstrate our inward trust in Him by outward actions. In other words, to not only hear His Word, but put it into practice. For faith without works is considered dead and accomplishes nothing for the Kingdom of God.
Faith is demonstrated by its works. And when we serve and care for other’s needs, we are actively showing the Lord’s unconditional (Agape) love for us. But don’t think that every time you help others it has to be big, grand, or showy…for Jesus tells us in Matthew 10:42 that just offering a cup of cold water to someone who needs it is a good work. In fact, the very basic definition of the Greek word for “help” in this verse means to wait tables. God will never overlook or ignore your good deeds – regardless of how small or insignificant you might think they are. For what you may see as just a simple kind act…the person receiving it sees Jesus.
God has things for you to be doing. It says here that with loving forethought, He readied them at the dawn of creation just for you. The Lord created you to fulfill these deeds of good to your fellow man…using the gifts, talents, and passions you possess in a totally unique way only you can. Even the vilest of us have the capacity to be kind…for we all are made in God’s image and capable of showing consideration towards others. We love because He first loved us is shown clearly in Titus 2:14, “Jesus gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people who are His very own, eager to do what is good.” Let us be a people who are eager to do what is good.