We do works of righteousness but those deeds are a result of God's mercy, saving us and then working in us through faith.
Today's Reading: Joshua 19-21; Luke 2:25-52
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:14-17
Martin Luther struggled with the book of James because he felt that the book discredited grace. After he, himself, tried to work so hard to prove his own faith, Luther came to the conclusion that salvation is by grace alone. He also realized that even our works are an act of God's grace. Verses like those above stumbled him because earlier in his life he tried to earn his salvation and to prove his faith through works, instead of grace. It is not works that save or justify or affirm your faith; it is a result of your faith that you desire to work for the things of God. When Luther ended up exhausted, burned out and lacking peace in his works, then he let faith be his guide to do what God called him to do. The Reformation is a result of his faith, not of his work. The Reformation resulted as a work of God through the faith of Martin Luther.
As the Bible says, God causes all things to work together for good. Today, there are countless churches and denominations reaching the world through the means and convictions that God has placed on each one's heart. God works through movements in His churches, but His works are still accomplished through individuals. That work is a result of the outpouring of love we have for the Lord. His burden is easy and His yoke is light. Titus 3:5 says "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us," meaning that we do works of righteousness but those deeds are a result of God's mercy, saving us and then working in us through faith. Today, allow the Lord to develop and strengthen your faith. Rest in His saving mercy and He will accomplish His work through your faith.