In the same way, faith by itself is dead if it doesn’t cause you to do any good things.James 2:17 (GW)
Have you ever met someone that is a “know-it-all?” They want to prove to you, and everyone else, that they are intellectually superior to all of us dumb, stupid, ignorant, or intellectually inferior people. They spout off facts and figures. They’ve memorized tons of information. They can quote from hundreds, if not thousands, of book, articles, and journals. And, perhaps their greatest gift to mankind, they are quick to correct you when they perceive you are wrong. (I’m not talking about constructive criticism. They correct you because they want to make sure you know they are right, and you are wrong.)
These types of people don’t really connect well with others. Why is this the case? Shouldn’t we seek out those who have knowledge? Can’t they help us learn more about life, academics, or even God? Why then do they turn people off rather than getting them excited? Simply put: though they have head knowledge, they have no heart.
I attended a ministry conference a few years ago where the organizers put an ad out on Craigslist asking for people from the Portland area to come and share their thoughts about Jesus and His church with us. Three people (a Jewish man, a social activist for the LGBTQ community, and a woman who had been beaten up by religion) came to share what many of us have already come to know. Their message was simple and straight to the point: Christians sure talk a lot, but don’t act on all the stuff they talk about, such as compassion and love.
This is where this beautiful verse from James comes into play. We can have all of the knowledge of Jesus, the Kingdom of God, and the Scriptures, but if our knowledge doesn’t make it from the head to the heart, then our faith is completely useless; dead, in fact.
This verse isn’t talking about a legalistic approach to faith, where we must earn our salvation. (Jesus already did that!) Instead, it’s saying it’s not enough to know about the love of God. We must show it. It’s not enough to claim Jesus as our Savior. We must follow His example and serve others. It’s not enough to have a nice church facility, yet not use our resources to help those that have nothing.
In short, our actions must match those of Jesus. Otherwise, we’re just know-it-alls.