Before the sun showed its face, or birds began their song, even before my eyes fully focused, I read this penetrating verse, “…faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead!” (James 2:17) Is it faith alone or does faith require action?
Just in case I missed it the first time, verse 26 says it again,
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead!”
Now that is dead! Other versions expound by adding “inoperative and ineffective” or “useless“.
I highlighted the concept this way in my journal, mainly because I sometimes just need things spelled out plainly and simply.
FAITH – ACTION = DEAD
FAITH – DEEDS = USELESS
Faith is never intended on being an isolated bubble of our spiritual journey. Rather, faith is designed to be intricately and solidly merged into our conversations and actions. At the same time, the shadow of the cross lands on these truths: I am made righteous in Christ and I can do nothing to merit or earn salvation!
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith –
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
However, there is an equation that is becoming an increasing reality in my life:
FAITH + ACTION = LIVING GRACE
FAITH + DEEDS = POWER FILLED SYNERGY
Paul as an Example – Faith Alone?
Paul invites all to examine this principle of faith plus action in his own life:
- a man lame from birth jumps up and begins walking (Acts 14:10)
- a young girl freed from demonic possession (Acts 16:18)
- such extraordinary miracles that even items that touched him “were taken to the sick and their illnesses were cured, and evil spirits left them” (Acts 19:12)
- a dead man raised to life (Acts 20:10)
- bitten by a viper (rattlesnake relative) without any after effects (Acts 28:5)
This is not exhaustive list, but it is enough to bring me to attention. “But this is Paul an apostle! Miracles don’t happen like that today,” might be the response from most. Perfectly logical and understandable! Let’s remember Paul was just a Jewish radical defending his belief system before meeting Jesus tangibly.
Logical and Understandable?
Since when is faith logical or understandable? I have often wished it was that easy! Unfortunately, I have been unable to stuff it into either of these two hefty containers. In fact, faith explodes all boundaries and catapults beyond human reason!
When I read the faith chapter of Hebrews 11, none of the actions of these men and women of faith were either rational or explainable. None! Yet, the volumes that have been written honouring and exemplifying their active faith continues to grow.
So, I wrestle…
against my little thinking…
my compulsion to understand…
to completely humble myself
walking the path of faith…
seeking grace for the moment…
to add not faith upon faith,
but rather childlike faith
baptizing every effort
releasing the life of Christ.
“It is impossible to please God without faith.
Anyone who wants to come to him must believe
that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”
The word “reward” embodies the idea of “restoring and renewing“, but the prime meaning is “to watch“. Furthermore, it is interesting that it also has a governmental or legal aspect of giving to someone what has been promised or is due – to settle an account.
I love it! God is watching and waiting for us to take Him at His word in active faith. As we do, He restores, renews, and watches over us seeking opportunity to fulfill His promises.
My NKJV study note to James says, “It is one of the most practical books in the New Testament because it offers instructions and exhortations to Christians who are experiencing problems as all of us do.”
The writers of the New Testament were penning their words of encouragement to simple ordinary people like you and me, in an effort to spur them to follow the example of Jesus Christ and the apostles. I cannot find one place where we are told, “Don’t try this at home!”
The opposite is true! James calls out just a clear today, “Activate your faith breathing life into a world gasping for fresh air!”
Faith Plus Action
Lord, because You pressed these words on my heart,
may I take the leadership in
stepping, speaking, loving,
praying, contending, travailing
from a posture of faith plus action…
Forgive me for believing small!
You are watching and waiting to see
to reward simple gestures of
upward faith and outward action.
I thank You, Lord Jesus!
More on faith –