When one wants to discuss salvation by grace through faith in the sacrifice of Jesus with a Jehovah's Witness, he often seems concerned, and the objection inevitably arises: Faith without works is dead! Basically there is nothing against this word from James 2:26. James is quite in agreement with this thought and with his explanations (2:14-26) with the words of Jesus and the statements of the apostles.
A Paul also writes that believing Christians bear fruit to God (Romans 7:4); he speaks of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), mentions the fruit of goodness (Ephesians 5:9), and emphasizes that Christians are created for good works (Ephesians 2:10; Galatians 5:6; 6:10) in which we should walk.
Jesus Himself said that His followers would be recognized by their fruits (Matthew 7:16+20). And in a parable he speaks of his followers as branches, which would bring much fruit only in connection with him (John 15:5). So the word of James is by no means isolated or even against the other statements of Scripture.
Also with James - as with Jesus and the apostles - faith comes first, which then bears fruit. Faith comes first, then the works which manifest this faith, make it known and confirm it. These works do not stand beside faith, but are a consequence of faith, to that extent even a component of faith.
Faith is also the decisive factor for James; he is concerned about it! But he is interested in a living and fruitful faith! This faith should prove itself in everyday life. According to James, a faith that does not lead to active obedience to God is dead, just as according to John 15:6 a vine that does not remain in the vine of Christ is a fruitless, withered, even dead vine.
But a vine that remains in the vine will bear fruit according to its possibilities, completely without pressure or coercion, just as a full heart must not be overflowed, forced to speak (Luke 6:45).
I once cited the example of a barometer elsewhere: It won't be nice weather because the barometer rises, but the barometer rises because the weather becomes nice. The weather is the first, the rising barometer the second. So the works do not make the faithful and good works do not make good faith for a long time, but good works come from faith if it is alive and not only consists of lip service.