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Welcome to DAY 12 of our online Bible study on James!

Click HERE to download our 25-Day Reading Plan on James!


DAY 12

— Read: James 2:20-26

Symbiosis is a concept I still remember from high school biology. It’s the relationship between two different organisms that depend on each other for survival.

I recently read about the symbiosis between coral reefs and algae. The coral provides a home for the algae as well as material critical to the algae’s photosynthesis. In exchange, the algae produces food necessary for the coral to grow.

The coral cannot exist without the algae. In fact, warmer temperatures cause the coral to expel the algae. Without the algae, the coral reefs soon die. The coral becomes a useless, brittle skeleton.

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26)

Like the coral and the algae, there’s a symbiotic relationship between faith and works. Where we find faith, we’ll also find works.

James says that faith is never found in isolation. Instead, good works are the natural overflow of authentic faith. 

In a play on words, James 2:22 says that faith works together with works. If we were reading the Greek, it would say faith and works “synērgei” — a word that looks a lot like the English word “synergy” and means to co-labor, to partner together in labor.

Simply put: faith and works are partners.

We often think of faith as a thought. A way of thinking. An ideology or concept we believe in. But faith is a verb.

Faith always expresses itself in action. To show the mutual relationship between faith and works, James gives two examples.

First, there’s Abraham. Abraham didn’t just nod his head in agreement to God as he stayed comfortably at home among his tents. His faith was expressed in active obedience — a risky kind of obedience that required him to lay his treasured son on the altar.

Then there’s Rahab. Shut in behind Jericho’s walls, Rahab, like all the others in the city, had heard of this God who had led His people through the wilderness and across the flood-stage Jordan on dry ground. But Rahab alone stepped out in courageous faith to align herself against her people and with God.

That’s the kind of faith God calls us to. Not the kind that stalls out in thought. That kind of faith is like the useless, brittle skeleton of dead coral.

We’re called to the beautiful symbiosis of faith and works . . . A vibrant, active, breathing, lived out, expressive faith that may require our risky, courageous obedience.


— Diving Deeper —

In what ways can you express your faith with action today?


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Lisa Appelo

Lisa Appelo is a single mom to 7, young widow, author and crazy in love with Christ. She’s a weekly women’s Bible teacher at church and shares soul-deep encouragement for the life of faith at You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook.

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