If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

James 2:15-16

Here James offers a simple illustration. If we encounter a man with great need, what should be our response? Notice also that the poor man in question does not just lack “food,” he lacks “daily” food. In other words he is not just suddenly hit by hard times; he has been in this state for a long time. He has so little he goes days without eating. He is not just a pan-handler. He is not just a guy who doesn’t want to work (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

He truly needs help…and instead of help, he gets words.

The ones with the means and the spiritual obligation to help, instead says “depart in peace” without giving him any reason to feel at peace. They say to him “be warmed and filled” without giving him anything to warm him, and without giving him anything to fill his belly. So what good are words? What do they profit? What good is conviction if it is not stirred to action?

In fact, when the grammar is closely examined, the situation looks even worse for these faith-only brethren. To be precise, instead of saying “depart in peace” the actual grammar is “depart as quickly as you can…in peace.” The attitude is one which tries to hurry the needy man along as fast as possible. But so to keep the conscience clean, they don’t just slam the door in his face. Instead they shoo-shoo/hurry-hurry him along, saying only whatever empty words they can offer to make themselves feel better for “trying.”

Likewise the empty words of “be warmed and filled” literally mean “warm yourself!” and “fill your own belly!” It would be one thing to hand them a blanket and then tell them to warm themselves, but they don’t give him a blanket; they only give him words. It would be one thing to hand him and sandwich and then tell him to fill his belly on his way out of town, but they don’t even give him the sandwich. What they are really saying to this poor man is “get out of here and take care of your own problems on your way out!”

May such an attitude never be had by any of us!