Verse: James 2:20-26
20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[b] and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
I like things plain and simple. Even if I don’t agree, I appreciate transparency and straightforward communication. When I read a verse like this, especially with a leading line expressing that our efforts or lack thereof could be “useless” or in some translations, “dead,” I’m left taking a big gulp (of air).
We are taught to be faithful. What does this really mean though? One of the definitions of faith, according to Merriam-Webster, is “Belief and trust in and loyalty to God.” These are some core characteristics for a healthy relationship with anyone. God isn’t just anyone. In today’s world, we function best with data. When we are evaluated at work, we are normally asked for evidence of our efforts that align with our self-review. A relationship with God is not based on sight or observations. There is an expected belief system required for this bond. We can read accounts in the Bible, be encouraged of the promises of Jesus, and receive guidance for our everyday lives, but we aren’t meeting Jesus for coffee in the flesh, yet.
James takes things just a bit further, in scripture. It’s not just about our beliefs and loyalty to Jesus. If we are not willing to do something with our knowledge, then we are fools. I know that sounds harsh, but let’s put things into perspective. How many of us download the latest recommended true-crime podcast, but don’t ever listen to it? How about preparing a delicious meal with dessert to follow, and leaving the table before you take a bite? How about purging your closet, organizing by color, separating by season, and keeping it a secret? No way! We would call our BFF to share the accomplishment. We would save room for dessert. We would listen to the latest and the greatest.
Thriving relationships require substance. Cultivating a life with substance requires action. Jesus taught us to seek, love and care for others. He didn’t just preach about it. He followed through. There are countless examples in the Bible of Jesus meeting people where they were. His words were met with follow through. Jesus didn’t just tell us to love our neighbors; He loved them by feeding, clothing, comforting and restoring.
Yes, we need faith. Yes, we need hope in the Lord. But, we can’t stop there. What can we do for the one? How can we demonstrate the reckless love of Jesus?
Dear Jesus, help us to see the areas in our lives where we can step out in faith. Let that step be an action and not just a thought in our minds. We know we can’t do it all, but we can do something. The something for one is far greater than the best intentions for many. Show us the ways to intervene and encourage. No deed is too small for you to bless and multiply.
Author: Megan Ahern