How is it that we can tell whether someone has faith or not? They can tell us all about their faith. How much they love Jesus, and how great they think the commandments are. It is easy to talk a real good faith, but is that the measure? James would say no, and I would agree. The best measure of a persons faith, or relationship with God through Jesus Christ is found in their actions.
James proclaims that faith without works is dead. The relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ is seen in the actions we take. When we look at the life of Jesus the gospels tell of his death and resurrection, but most of their effort and energy focus on his life, how Jesus lives, the actions he was about. Had Jesus simply said I am the Son of God, the Messiah, the One you have been waiting for, and had not works to support it, people would not have followed. Claims alone will not get you very far, we must put actions to our claims.
While we are putting actions to our claims there is an important truth which cannot be overlooked. Our actions alone will not get the job done. If we do all the right stuff, minister with the people God brings our way. If we major in deeds, but do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ we are lost. It is through the grace of Jesus Christ alone that we enter into a full relationship with God, no amount of good deeds can do this.
So we see it is the two working in harmony. We must claim and accept the grace of God offered through Jesus Christ. We must also have that claim produce in us all kinds of good works for the sake of the kingdom of God.