This passage from James is one that caused Martin Luther’s blood to boil. He called it a “gospel of straw” for he had experienced an extreme emphasis on good works within the church of his day. Luther took a stand on grace: we were saved by God’s grace through faith.
That’s an important perspective regarding salvation. But Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a 20th century Lutheran, said we could cheapen grace, use it as an excuse to not get involved in helping those in need.
Confusing? Look at it this way: yes, we are definitely saved by God’s grace through faith. Period. But then, as God’s love grows in our hearts, we begin to see the world through God’s eyes and to respond. Of course we care for those in need!
God of grace, help us respond to your amazing gift of grace. Open our hearts wider to you and those in need. Amen. — AK