Aesop's Fables tells of a man who traveled abroad. When he returned home, the man told everyone he knew about all that he had seen and done in his travels. One of the things he boasted about was that he had entered a jumping match while at Rhodes. According to the man, not only did he take part in the match, but he also won it, jumping higher and farther than anyone else could. Some of his listeners must have been skeptical because the man said, "Just go to Rhodes and ask them yourselves. They will tell you it's true." To this, his listeners replied, "We don't need to go to Rhodes for proof. If you can jump that high and that far in Rhodes, you can jump just as high and just as far right here. Go ahead and prove it. Jump!"
The moral of this fable is "Deeds, not words." This man wanted everyone to know how great a jumper he was. But, words were not enough to convince them. They needed to see him do it, not just talk about it. They wanted his deeds to back up his words. In his letter to Jewish believers, the apostle James wrote about the importance of works to faith. In writing on this subject, James asked what good it would be for someone to say he has faith, but not back up that declaration of faith with works (James 2:14). James used the illustration of someone telling a brother or sister who is need of clothing and food to go in peace, be warm and filled, without giving them the things that they need (James 2:15-16). As James puts it, "What good is that?"
Faith that is not accompanied by works is a dead faith (James 2:17). As believers, saved by faith in Jesus Christ, we need to live out that faith in our lives. Our faith in Jesus should spur us on to do good works. After all, that was the example that Jesus set for us. Faith that is accompanied by good works is faith that is alive. It is a faith that is contagious. When we walk by faith, doing good works, we reflect Jesus to those around us. When non-believers see the way in which we live, the good works that we do in Jesus' name, we become a living Gospel. Our example just may result in some of them coming to faith in Jesus. We were saved by faith, but it is our works that could be the difference in others receiving that same salvation.