Perhaps you have heard of the man who painted the word “faith” on one of his canoe oars and the word “works” on the other. When asked why he did this, he demonstrated. He used the oar marked faith and pulled with all his might; and the boat went round and round. Then he put down that oar and used only the one marked works, pulling with all his might and got the same result. Finally, he grabbed the oar marked faith in one hand and the one marked works in the other and—you guessed it—the boat moved smoothly down the river, showing that faith without works is dead. The book of James chapter 2 makes that so clear. James says, “Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.” Of course, God saves us when we place our faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ, but our good deeds are evidence that our faith is genuine. That principle is especially relevant in our day, when some people use the name of Christ to cloak their self-centered racism and injustice. To use James’ pithy words, “This is not right.” Neither is God fooled by such hypocrisy.

Dr. Melvin E. Banks, Sr.

Dr. Melvin E. Banks, Sr. is the founder and chairman of UMI (Urban Ministries, Inc.). Under his direction, UMI has grown to be a leading publisher of Christian education resources for churches in the African American community. Read More

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