Where’s the beef? ∙
Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” James 2:18
17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
“Where’s the beef?” is a catchphrase in the United States and Canada, introduced as a slogan for the fast-food chain Wendy’s in 1984.
The original commercial featured three elderly ladies at the “Home of the Big Bun,” a fictional competitor of Wendy’s. Clara Peller receives a burger with a massive bun. The other two ladies poked at it, exchanging bemused comments, “It certainly is a big bun. It’s a very big bun. It’s a big fluffy bun. It’s a very big fluffy bun.”
As one of the ladies lifts the top half of the bun, a comically minuscule hamburger patty with cheese and a pickle is revealed. The small patty prompts Peller angrily to exclaim, “Where’s the beef?”
The catchphrase was repeated in television shows, films, magazines, and other media outlets. During the 1984 presidential primaries, Democratic candidate and former Vice President Walter Mondale used the phrase to sum up, his arguments that program policies championed by his rival, Senator Gary Hart, were insubstantial.
Since then, this phrase has evolved into a versatile expression used to question the validity or worth of an idea, event, or product.
Throughout the centuries, individuals, particularly theologians, have discussed the correlation between faith and works. If we claim to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, how can we ascertain whether we have been saved? Is our faith sincere and sufficient? Where is the evidence to support our beliefs? Where’s the beef?
REFLECT & PRAY
“For James, ‘faith alone’ means a bogus kind of faith, mere intellectual agreement without a genuine personal trust in Christ that bears fruit in one’s life” (ESV notes).
Father thank You that You have provided salvation by faith alone. Encourage and strengthen me to live out the fruit of my faith.
The apostle Paul unequivocally stated that salvation comes by grace through faith, and it is not the result of any effort on our part.
Ephesians 2:8-9 [NLT]
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.
9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
Ephesians 2:8-9 [NAS]
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
9 not as a result of works, so no one may boast.
Salvation is the Father’s gracious response to our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and our acceptance of Him as our Savior. Before the birth, life, and death of Christ, the children of the King believed in the promises that the Father made in the Old Testament. The best illustration of this is Abraham.
Genesis 15:6 Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD counted him as righteous because of his faith.
The Father made promises, and Abraham believed them. That is when he became a child of the King (Romans 4:3, Galatians 3:6). However, how did he demonstrate that his faith was genuine?
When asked to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, he demonstrated his genuine faith by preparing to follow through with the seemingly over-the-top. However, before he could carry out the Father’s request, an angelic messenger intervened and prevented him from doing so.
Genesis 22:12 He said, “Don’t lay a hand on the boy! “Do not hurt him in any way, for now, I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”
Abraham’s works, good deeds, efforts, and willingness to carry out the Father’s command demonstrated that his faith was real. Works are the outward demonstration of the inner reality of faith.
But there is more. The Father provides an inner awareness through the work of the Holy Spirit to confirm that our faith is genuine and that we are His children.
Romans 8:16 For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.
Anyone can say they have faith. But saying you have faith is not enough.
20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?
22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete.
23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God.
24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
James asserts that a person’s faith in God is rendered useless and ineffective without good works. The Greek word translated as useless or vain is argos. Argos literally means without work, thus ineffectual, useless, unproductive, unprofitable, worthless (cf. Matthew 20:3, 6).
A Christian who ceases to live by faith daily is like someone with a non-functioning organ. Just as the dead organ is useless, so is the dead faith. James then elaborated on what he meant by “useless” in verses James 2:21-23, emphasizing that his concern was with the futility of faith that is not accompanied by works, rather than the absence of faith without works (James 1:26; 2:14, 16, 20) (Constable).
Our actions do not justify us before the Father. Instead, they demonstrate and serve as evidence of our righteousness in His eyes.
Real, powerful, and life-changing faith has been dubbed dynamic faith.
However, there’s more to it than that.
The quality of faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. A person in the jungle may trust an idol of stone to help them, but no matter how much faith they generate, it will not help them. The question is not merely whether someone believes, but rather, in whom or what they believe. We are not saved by faith in faith but by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in His Word.
Dynamic faith is based on God’s Word and involves the entire person. Dead faith affects only the intellect, while demonic faith affects the mind and emotions. Dynamic faith, on the other hand, involves the will (Wiersbe).
The whole person has a role in genuine saving faith. The mind grasps the truth, the heart desires the truth, and the will acts upon the truth. The men and women of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11 were doers of the Word; when God spoke, they obeyed. “Faith is not believing in spite of evidence, but obeying in spite of consequences” (Wiersbe).
True saving faith leads to action. Dynamic faith is not simply intellectual contemplation or emotional fretfulness, but it leads to obedience on the part of the will. This obedience is not an isolated event; it continues throughout life and results in good works (Wiersbe).
© Dr. H 2023
2 thoughts on “Where’s the beef?”
You are such a great writer and inspiration. Thank you!
Thank you for the encouragement.
Soli Gloria Deo
My sentiments are similar to the apostle John.
3 John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.