In these passages, James points out that faith is worthless unless it is accompanied by action or works. True faith in Jesus Christ will motivate a person to do what Jesus commands them to do. For example, Jesus wants us to help the needy, to clothe the naked, and feed the hungry.
During our lives we will encounter situations where we become aware of another person’s needs, needs that we can fulfill. In those situations, I believe we will be prompted to act. It might not be convenient for us to act, but we should respond to God’s nudges to act.
For example, if we see a person with car troubles beside the road, we should pull over and find out what they need and if we can help them. Or if we are just coming out of McDonald’s, and a poor person approaches us and asks for food, we should get him or her some food. We must not turn our backs on them.
James said to the people, “This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” In James’ day, widows and orphans were at great risk for starvation. There were no social programs, and they had little means of support. The Christian community was called upon to help these unfortunate people.
As James implied, it was what God wanted the believers to do. The Bible says that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. This means that we are to help others whenever and wherever we see a need for help that we can provide.