by Kristen C. Strocchia
“Just as the body without spirit/breath is dead, so also faith without deeds/good works is dead.” James 2:26
Dead. No matter what I believe about God and what He can do, if I do not obey Him, if I do not act on the faith that I have, I am as good as a dead man walking. I am as good as the world’s shiniest and fastest car with no gas.
What deeds is the writer of James speaking about? Whatever God asks of me.
How do I know what He’s asking of me? By reading His Word. By maintaining close conversation with the Lord through my prayer relationship. By walking this world with my eyes and my heart wide open.
Maybe God will ask me to share my lunch with someone who forgot theirs or to befriend the smelly kid at school. Maybe He will ask me to share the gospel with the class president or pray with the class bully. Maybe He will simply ask me to say and do what is right according to His Word [and this He is definitely asking of all of us at all times].
Regardless of what God asks of me, one thing is certain, if I do not respond with obedience, if I do not act on my faith I am like a body that’s not breathing. I am like a car that can’t leave the driveway. Dead.
“…if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2b-3
But let’s say my faith is very much alive. I gave, befriended, shared the gospel, prayed, and said and did what was right according to scripture, but I didn’t actually love any of the people that God sent me to, then none of it meant a thing. None of it is of any value to me. I miss out on the blessing, because I can’t grow in God without loving the people He sends me to. It’s like Jonah being sent to Nineveh. He was so angry with God for saving those people because Jonah himself didn’t love them at all, and Jonah missed the true blessing of the good work that he’d done.
“What is important is faith expressing itself in love.” Galatians 5:6b
The Galatian church fought about whether Gentiles becoming Christians had to be circumcised–by the same obedient faith that God called Abraham to–just like the Jews. They knew what God’s Word said. But by their fighting it’s obvious that they didn’t love one another. The apostle Paul, who wrote Galatians, basically said, Look guys. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to get circumcised or not. He recognized this choice as a physical act. A deed not connected to New Testament faith, but to Old Testament faith. A deed that had no value because the church had missed the point. God hadn’t called these new believers to act on someone else’s faith. But He had called all believers–just as He does today–to act on their faith in love.
What is God calling you to do today? Do you have the love for God and others to make your obedience count?