PASSAGE: So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
QUESTION: When I have struggled with my faith, people have quoted this verse to me, implying that I have not done enough to help myself. I have said that simply asking for God’s help and waiting is sufficient. Does this verse mean we are to be busy? There is so much going on in my life that, most times, all I can do is whisper a prayer and hope that God will do the rest. In the past few years, I have struggled to take care of my parents, deal with depression, unemployment, financial hardships, loan modification, avoiding foreclosure and other issues. Most days it’s a struggle to manage the basics. Stress, exhaustion, fatigue, anxiety and fear have taken their toll on me. Do all these things count as “works” as James 2:17 intends?
COMMENT: What James means—and it is repeated a number of times in the brief letter —is that it is not enough to pray to God and then sit back and wait for results. Eric Butterworth, an outstanding Unity minister, used to say that God cannot do for us what God cannot do through us. The power we seek is already present within us, and we must be willing to be its means of expression. Of course there is work necessary to deal with problems on the human level. But in order to resolve the problems we must rise above the level of consciousness at which the problems exist. We must be willing to see the Presence of the Divine in every challenge—to steadily and joyfully affirm “Show me the Good!” in absolute assurance that, since everything abides in the energy of God, there is a good available in every challenge if we are willing to see it properly.