While waiting for friends to arrive for lunch the other day the Spirit of The Lord spoke these words: “We’ve had years of the message of Faith – Now it’s time to hear what God says about what we are to do with our Faith.”
James gives us insight of what this actually means: “What good is it dear brothers and sisters if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say “Good-bye and have a good day, stay warm and eat well”-but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” James 2:14-18.
Many years ago I attended a well known Bible school in Oklahoma and heard the message of faith. They taught scriptural truths about faith and how I could apply it to MY life today (thank God for it!) but never, to my recollection, did they teach what it means to put my faith in action to benefit the needs of others. And I believe I know why. Many were afraid that if you teach that we are to do good works then others might begin to think that they must do good deeds to be saved. I know this for a fact, yet that is not at all what James is teaching here. Let’s rewind a bit and address this as it says in scripture found in Ephesians 2:8-10 “By Grace you are saved through faith, and not of yourselves, it is a gift from God… not of works lest any man should boast, but we are created in Christ Jesus to do good works that we might walk in them”. In short, our faith is to be in God and what Jesus did for us on the Cross. Now that we’ve received his Grace we are not to go on a “Grace Vacation” (quote from our son during one of his recent messages) on the contrary. Because of his grace we are to show what true faith looks like by loving our neighbor just as James says by feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. Very interesting because Jesus says he will be able to tell the difference between his true followers and those who say they have faith but refuse to “do”: “I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and in prison and you visited me, I was a stranger and you gave me shelter…If you’ve done it to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you’ve done it to me…” Mathew 25:31-46.