My Life Verses: James 2:15-17

Day 13: “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:15-17)

I first heard these verses during a spring break mission trip I took while I was at Bible school.  We had partnered with Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission and went out one night with their group to hand out food and blankets to the homeless on the street.  I can remember standing in a circle in a parking lot beforehand to pray for our time and hearing the UGM leader quote these verses.  They really caught my attention and I can recall mulling them over on the van ride home afterwards.

Verse 16 especially stood out to me; “If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”  This changed my view on the connection between evangelism and missions on so many levels.  I was convicted personally to wonder if I had ever been this type of person – to offer platitudes but no real help.  I appreciated even more the practical, hands-on approach an organization like UGM was taking in local missions.  And it helped me realize what it was I wanted to look for in the global mission organizations I supported as well.  All in all, it truly transformed the way I believed Christians should interact with the world around them.

Another passage of scripture this reminds me of was one I had heard growing up in the church,Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  “The King will reply,Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” (Matthew 25:37-40)  Again, the idea here is that we are supposed to be offering tangible, hands-on help to those we see in need around us.

don’t know all about the definitions and implications of the words “social gospel” and “social justice,” etc.  But I do know that for me, after hearing the verses from James 2:15-17, my worldview began to shift and change in these areas.  Today, it is having these verses in the back of my mind along with the book, “When Helping Hurts,” that have shaped how I try to reach out to others and the world around me. (We used that book as a guide for my recent mission trip to Costa Rica and it proved invaluable).  And I believe, as James 2 implies, that my faith in God has also grown as a result.    

      Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food.  If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?  In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:15-17)

Love to Hear Your Thoughts!