What does it profit, my brothers, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? can faith save him?…
As a fruit-tree, to be worth anything, brings forth fruit, so faith, to be real, brings forth works: good acts, holy deeds, right conduct, pious living. Faith without works is as dead as a skeleton; works without faith, as lifeless as a belted tree. What God hath joined, let no one put asunder. I fear, however, that sometimes our idea of what good works are, is erroneous. We are prone to regard only something religious, or something very great or conspicuous, as a good work. If some of us could only build a church, or endow a college or a theological seminary or a great hospital, or head a popular subscription list, we might think that we were doing a good work. And so we should be; if an object is good and the motive pure, and the love of man and of Christ pervade it, the act is a good work. But it does not require the condition of size to cause a deed to be holy. Dimension is not an essential property of things spiritual. Let us take the family. We have a way of speaking of our "sacred duties," and, by these, we generally mean our religious ones; but are no duties sacred except those of the closet, or the chapel? All duty is sacred. You cannot lay the finger on a duty, or a class of duties which is not. It is just as truly a "sacred duty" that a father provide for his family, as that he contribute to the support of the external and public acts of religion. Prayer is a sacred duty, but just as truly is industry. And, in this realm of sacred duty, this field for the exercise of godly works which spring of godly faith and a love for both man and his Maker, what, pray, shall we call a gentle tone, a soft answer, a look of compassion, a touch of sympathy; what, the forethought which anticipates the wishes of others; the spirit of self-sacrifice which prefers personal inconvenience rather than to give unnecessary trouble; what, all those little things which adorn and glorify the domestic life? Are they not all in the nature of holy deeds? An act needs not to be heralded in order to be noble. The smallest good work is large. And take the social life. Any act which spares the feelings of some sensitive person; any act which shields the blunders of ignorance; anything — small or large, which recognises the brotherhood of humanity — are not these, if they come of love of God and men, in the nature of good works? In one sense they cannot be little; nothing is small that is done for God and in His Name.
(R. W. Lowrie.)
Parallel VersesKJV: What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?