James 2:14-17 probes deeply into those who see needs (or ignore needs) and do nothing to alleviate needs. James, in fact, says that kind of response indicates the lack of faith — the lack of saving faith. Notice his words:
14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If
one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,”
but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
The language of James 2:16, while it can be generalized or taken in a less concrete sense, may well indicate “praying” for those in need but not giving to those in need. The language is passive voice stuff: “Go in peace” may be “May God’s peace be upon you,” and “keep warm” may be “may God keep you warm” and “keep … well fed” may be “may God feed you.” This could represent language that intends to show the prayer turning his or her face away from the needs and asking God to take care of the problems.
What good is it?, James asks, if this person does nothing about it.
His answer, implicitly, is: “It is of no good.” In other words, those who see needs (or ignore needs) and do nothing about it, do not have the kind of faith that is consistent with Jesus, the Glorious One.