You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. –James 2:24
… we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. –Galatians 2:16
These verses appear to contradict each other as if to represent two separate camps of faith. Strong divisions made palpable in a war of words. Decency exits the scene when soldiers fight each other as though they were enemies. Fear caffeinates the heart in uncoordinated swings of the sword.
Divisions are evidence that Truth has left the equation.
“Works” in these scriptures needs to be understood. James 2 tells us that faith without works is dead. The passage uses Abraham with Issac and Rahab’s hospitality as examples of the kind of “works” that prove faith.
Galatians 2 is talking about “works of the law.” The poignancy of this passage is the message that righteousness through the law cancels the grace of God. If works are the avenue to righteousness, then Jesus death was not needed.
I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose. –Galatians 2:21
Understanding the meaning of “works” can cure the dilemma of faith, the source of contention, and the interpretation that causes division.
The meaning of “works” is Love. Love God and love others.
In Luke 10, a lawyer discussed with Jesus the meaning behind the law. When Jesus asked him what he, a lawyer, understood from reading it, the lawyer answered, (verse 27) “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus told him that he was correct and if he does that, he will have eternal life.
Going back to the passages in James 2, faith is justified by works. Abraham’s example is his love for God. Rahab was used as an example because she treated others the way she would want to be treated. Their love proved their faith.
We are set apart by love. That is how the world knows we are Christians. It’s not by what we do or don’t do. You do not have to have a relationship with Jesus to do “good.” That’s why no matter how much “good” we do in the name of Jesus, none of it amounts to anything if we fail to love. Faith is far more interior. The only thing that matters is how we love.
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. –Romans 13:8
The “works” that prove our faith and justify us is love. Love is the only way to get it right.
When you look at the scriptures that talk about “judging a tree by its fruit” and you determine that “fruit” refers to the fruits of the Spirit, you can see how love is the key. The fruits of the spirit correspond with the Biblical definition of Love.
Fight to find common ground. Name calling and back biting divisions are evidence that pride has taken precedence.
Don’t fight back. People display their own character. Nobody needs to point it out. Besides, you cannot freeze a person, mid-mistake, and walk off like you have a throne waiting on you. People are in constant process. Give them a break because of grace. Resolve to look at everyone in light of Jesus. That is the most powerful weapon against hostility and bitterness. We know that love wins because it’s the weapon God chose to save the world. “For God so loved the world…” Decide to know nothing but love.
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. -1 Corinthians 2:2
Your actions will never hold the importance love holds. “Love covers all offenses” (Proverbs 10:12). You can never go wrong loving someone who will never deserve it.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. –Galatians 5:6