“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but
has no deeds? Can such faith save him? … Faith by itself,
if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
(James 2:14, 17)
Thoughts… Here’s my translation of what James is saying: “Prove your faith by living it out, because faith without action is no faith at all!”
Church-goers in our culture really need to listen up to James’ words, because there’s a great deal of belief that’s not matched by behavior these days. Our talk is not commensurate with our walk. As James would say, there’s an unfortunate disconnect between faith and action. And this disconnect is the source of much unhappiness, frustration, and even stress for believers.
For instances, we value generosity, but hoard our wealth. We believe in God, but decreasingly participate in worship. We tout the sanctity of marriage and family values, yet the divorce rate is skyrocketing. We sing of peace on earth, yet there’s more anger in our hearts and hostility in our homes than ever.
Sociologists refer to this disconnect between what we say we believe and how we actually live as incongruent values. Back in James 1, the sad consequences of living with these incongruent values are clearly spelled out:
- Self-deception: You will “…deceive yourself.” (Verse 22)
- Dissatisfaction: You will be “…like the man who looks at his face in the mirror…and immediately forgets what he looks like.” (Verse 23)
- Bondage: You will not live under “…the law that gives freedom…” (Verse 25)
- Spiritual Poverty: You won’t be “blessed in what you do.” (Verse 25)
- Irrelevance: Your “…religion is worthless.” (Verse 26)
What James is describing is a pointless faith; a lot of knowledge but little implementation. That’s a big problem in the church today. We’re like Dead Sea saints: A lot of inflow but no outflow. And like the real Dead Sea, the result is a stagnant, stinky body of water. Nothing is more disgusting to God and dissatisfying to people who live it than dead faith…an inflow of God’s riches with little or no outflow of God’s grace.
Authentic, saving, God-pleasing faith is not just something you say or feel or believe, it is something you do! Now just to be clear, our faith is not determined by what we do. On the other had, our faith is demonstrated by what we do. Faith is taking what you know to be true, what is of utmost and eternal value to you, and living it out in every fiber of your existence.
God’s invitation to you, wherever you are on the faith continuum, is to move from a knowledge of him to a day-by-day, moment-by-moment personal relationship with him.
In the 1850’s, a famous tightrope walker named George Blondin, for a publicity stunt, decided he would walk across Niagara Falls on a rope that had been stretched from one side of the falls to the other. Crowds lined up on both the Canadian and American side to watch this unbelievable feat. Blondin began to walk across—inch-by-inch, step-by-step and everybody knew that if he’d make one mistake he was a goner. He got to the other side and the crowd went wild. Blondin said, “I’m going to do it again.” And to the crowds delight, he did. Then, to everybody’s amazement, he crossed again, this time pushing a wheel-barrow full of dirt. He actually did this several times, and as he started to go across one last time, someone in the crowd said, “I believe you could do that all day.”
Blondin dumped out the dirt and said to the man, “Get into the wheelbarrow.” He had no takers!
In a very real sense that’s what God is saying to you today. Talk is cheap. Get in the wheelbarrow of faith…and if you do, you will be accepted and pleasing to me…and I will bless you life!” (James 1:25-27)
Prayer… Dear God, help me to live out my faith in my moment-by-moment life!
One More Thing…“Good works do not make a good man, but a good man does good works.” —Martin Luther