Faith without works is dead. James 2:26
The entire quote from James 2:26 is, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”
It’s important to understand that James, the brother of Jesus, does not contradict the apostle Paul, who tells us, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) For the very next verse – the very next thing Paul writes is this:
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
Works is not the basis of faith, but the appropriate result of it.
So why is all this in the seed about kindness?
Because sometimes, we Christians (and I include myself here) tend to think of works as service projects or mission trips or volunteering at church or tithing. We say we’ll pray for someone, then we do or don’t, and never follow up. Yet we never think of works as being kind and compassionate.
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? James 2:15-16
I remember a morning nearly a year ago that still haunts me. I had just come out of the grocery store, placed my few bags in the trunk of my car, unlocked the door and sat behind the wheel. I started the motor and looked up. Sitting before me, on a cold, metal bench in front of the entrance to the grocery was a man who was obviously homeless: his clothes were tattered, he was dirty, his hair was unkempt.
I don’t know why, but I froze in my seat. He looked straight at me, and I can still recall his eyes, which were the bluest I have ever seen. Why I did not get out of my car, return to the store and buy him food and warm coffee I do not know to this day. Every time I remember the scene, I recall Matthew 25:44-45, “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’”
My kindness and compassion left me in that moment, and I have regretted it ever since.
We must be continually aware of not only our brothers and sisters in Christ, but our neighbors. We must see them as children of God. We must offer our hands and hearts in kindness and compassion as our works of faith. We never know when others hide pain or heartache, when we, with a smile or a gesture or a prompting from the Holy Spirit, can serve to be someone’s angel of compassion.
Angel of Compassion
by Olaina Kim
I met an angel late one night
she wandered right into my room
solemnly I sat, about to write
moving tales of grief and gloom
disturbing facts could fit a crime
recalling fragments of my shift
that often stay with me a time.
I do remember tears that rain
Shedding such sorrows, unyielding stress
I’ve learned to accept their despair
of whiles of sadness and distress;
They’re stored in splinters everywhere
the attic of my cluttered mind,
in nooks and crannies here and there
of hurt and sorrow, the ugly kind.
If I allow for this to fester
in unknown bytes inside my brain
they may not go, and simply linger,
I’ll know not how to free the pain.
I’ve now discovered a new process
that helps unleash these murky stains
that echoes screams of endless pain
I now set free with recklessness
the bits and pieces that remain
they relocate and find a space,
and make its home another place.
My new approach is really simple
I act! Don’t say, just act and pray
I write, transcribe, sometimes I scribble
hoping the stories will go away.
I hear the undertones and tears
lamenting souls, disturbing fears,
unleashed in prose and poems and tales,
tears turn to rain and raging gales.
I always wondered about their fate,
such anguish needs to hibernate
to feel embraced and be remembered
they need a home not kept asunder,
deserve a witness of their grief
acknowledging a past disturbed
too much abuse that has occurred.
I look up from my desk and see
an angel standing close to me
she’s waiting there so patiently
as I unleash this flood of pain
she saves the flow of tender words
her arms are filled with misery
she hugs the woes so tenderly
of broken hearts and shattered souls
this angel standing on my right
awaits my words, I give, she takes…
I feel my heart unburdened… light!
I know for sure I’ll sleep tonight,
this angel came to me last night
appeased and freed my heart and soul
and now it feels so good and light;
I know for sure I’ll sleep tonight
so I’ll continue on my flight
listening to tales of woe and fright
but that’s tomorrow not tonight…
I know for sure I’ll sleep tonight.
Sometimes, pain is deep and restoration takes a lifetime. Our words can either create distance or can bring life. They can isolate or they can offer an oasis of kindness, tenderness and compassion in a desert of loneliness, pain and grief. We never know what hurts are deep inside someone’s core. We see them once a week at church, brush by them as we take our seat, and forget them until the following Sunday.
Look into someone’s eyes this week. Allow your faith to work through compassion and kindness.
To end on a lighter note, here are some things we can say more often in kindness.
Angel of Compassion copyright 2014, Oliana Kim
Oliana Kim writes prose and poetry and posts at
Traces of the Soul http://tracesofthesoul.wordpress.com where she writes “whatever comes to mind…sometimes it can be a bit raw, other times serious and pensive and many times, I hope, just being able to laugh at myself when I get into situations that may not be fun but that no one can change…so may as well laugh about it.”
This blog can also be seen at Mind’s Seat www.marmarthunder.wordpress.com