This is the KEY VERSE in the Book of James, "You have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works."
The first sentence repeats what some have said in that some have a gift of faith and some have a gift of works, each person having different gifts. In other words, whatever your gift is what saves. This is NOT so!
I see the first half of the next sentence almost as a rhetorical thought-provoking question. It is a challenge to those who think that faith and works can be separated. It cannot be done. Even James 2:17 is the reverse.
The second half of the sentence repeats what was said earlier in James in that it is by our works that we can see our faith. Faith cannot be separated from the response of works. God can see our heart and faith and does not need to see our works. However, for one to examine self, the tangible human works is an indicator of faith in action. We cannot see the heart like God can. Romans 3:28, "For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law." It is the faith that saves us, not the works.