Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?~ James 2:15-16
James is talking about faith and works when he gives us this wonderful example. He’s saying wishing people well without doing anything more is like claiming you have faith without there being any evidence of it through our actions or deeds.
Here’s a perfect hypothetical illustration: Say I have a used, working refrigerator in my basement that I never use. I find out someone in my church needs a refrigerator and they can’t afford to go out and buy one. I tell them I’ll ask around and pray for them about their refrigerator and I do just that, nothing more-nothing less. The book of James argues that my faith is dead, even if I ask around and even if I pray for the person’s need. You see, God has provided the answer and it’s in my basement, but I want to hold onto it in case I need it later.
The person who needs the fridge may even leave thinking how wonderful I am that I would ask around and pray for them about it, but James would not be impressed with my efforts. I can’t think that God would be pleased either.