James: Handling the Hard Stuff of Life
I’ve been passionately talking to myself about taking off some unwanted and unnecessary pounds for months. But the pounds would not come off. My self-talks were awesome, cheering me on…but with no success. I told myself how much better I would feel, but still no pounds were coming off. In fact, I was getting even more pudgy around the mid section the more I talked. My walk was slower. My breathing more labored. Yuck. What is going on here? I had plenty of faith that I could take off the weight but I wasn’t DOING anything about it. Ah…that’s the problem.
Once I formed a plan, with faith in myself to control what I put in my mouth and began implementing the plan daily, the pounds are coming off. I was prompted to exercise more. Now, I feel better. I’m returning back to a more healthy me which gives me confidence in losing even more of the baggage I have been toting around on my back side over the winter.
Mm, is this what James is talking about? When our faith in God, led by His Holy Spirit, directs us to do something and we do it, doesn’t’ that actually deepen our faith to be led to do more? Being and doing, doing and being. Faith and works, works and faith. Hand in glove. Jesus in us. Us in Jesus. Mm.
James 2, The Message
14-17 Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
18 I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”
Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.
19-20 Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?
21-24 Wasn’t our ancestor Abraham “made right with God by works” when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn’t it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are “works of faith”? The full meaning of “believe” in the Scripture sentence, “Abraham believed God and was set right with God,” includes his action. It’s that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named “God’s friend.” Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?
25-26 The same with Rahab, the Jericho harlot. Wasn’t her action in hiding God’s spies and helping them escape—that seamless unity of believing and doing—what counted with God? The very moment you separate body and spirit, you end up with a corpse. Separate faith and works and you get the same thing: a corpse.
What do we learn?
–Faith and works, “can’t have one without the other” as the old song goes.
–Being first with God then doing what He says, leads us to living abundantly, asking “what’s next?, Papa.”
–Believe and do.
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for these Your Word. We are perplexed at world thinking. Then reading Your Word sets us back on track of how You think. Help us to think and behave in ways that please You. May our focus and gaze be fixed on You as we wait for your next direction to do another part of your will and purpose. Transform us. In Jesus Name, Amen