By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks.  By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. (Hebrews 11:4-7 (ESV)
In today’s world there is an unfortunate rift in Christianity concerning faith and works. People so often want to look at their works to assure them that they have faith. Or they actually put their faith in their works. And all too often the verse from James concerning this relationship is pulled out and lined up for more abuse. But here we see something different. It is faith that gives life to our works. Works flow from faith, not to be looked too, but in response too. Faith is the decisive thing not the work. Faith makes the difference. Without faith it is impossible to please God. But this faith should not be faith in our works, but faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. When we believe that, even the smallest things we do, things we think we are doing for no one else but our neighbor, sometimes works we do for ourselves, are considered pleasing to God. For righteousness comes by faith, not works.