The book of James tells us that lazy faith is lost faith: “faith without works is useless.”
But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the the person who has saving faith that works will be walking on water, raising the dead, or causing droughts.
Instead, faith that works does things that might be less dramatic, but no less miraculous: rejoicing despite suffering, controlling the tongue, purifying motives, avoiding prejudice, rescuing believers.
Faith Works in Opportunities
It is only by saving faith that we can count it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds (James 1:2). Those without faith must see adversity as an impediment to happiness; the Christian can see, and endure, adversity as a tool for our happiness.
Faith Works toward Obedience
Saving faith doesn’t hear God’s voice to avoid becoming a resident of hell, but then ignore his instruction on how to live as a resident of heaven. Saving faith hears God’s word and obeys: but be doers of the word, and not hearers only…(James 1:22).
Faith Works with an Outlook
Faith that works itself out in the world will have a certain view of the world. That view is biblical, God-honoring, Christ-exalting, and Spirit-following. Working faith knows that our lives are but vapors (James 4:14), that God is sovereign (James 4:15), and that purpose lies behind everything God does (James 5:11). This sort of outlook does not come naturally, but supernaturally.
Faith Works within an Organism
Faith does not work itself out in a vacuum. After he saves them, God does not put his people in isolation chambers, but into a world made messy by other sinners. Other people, after all, might be the very “opportunities” he provides to test our faith. We work out our salvation in fear and trembling in the context of other believers, and particularly in the context of the local congregation of believers, our church. By God’s design, we need one another to practice working faith.
Thankfully we aren’t saved because we have worked perfectly, but God perfects us as faith works itself out in us.