Today’s Thought: What message do my works send about my faith?
If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? (James 2:14-16)
My mother loved to people watch. When I was in elementary and middle school, our family would make an entire day of picking up my older brothers from the airport when they would come home on military leave. For someone my age who rarely left our small, rural county, trips to the airport were pretty exhilarating. Especially since my people-person mother was in her element! We would try to guess passenger destinations from the way they were dressed or from bits of information we overheard. It was a particularly exciting trip if my mother struck up an actual conversation with one of the travellers. There were several particularly exciting trips!
Over the course of those airport afternoons, my mother talked (and I listened) to people traveling for their jobs, heading back home for the holidays, divorcing, marrying, looking for a fresh start, mourning the loss of a friend; and, I even remember one woman who was almost in tears from the stress of travelling alone with a new baby. So, of course, my mother had to hold the baby to give the young momma a break. The child fell asleep and laid in my mother’s arms for what seemed like eternity to me. (I’m not sure she could get away with that these days… which makes me sad.)
When the Holy Spirit is within our hearts—truly in our hearts—we can’t help but show it through our actions. So often we get it backwards, and this was exactly what James was trying to address in his letter: What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works…. faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead (James 2:14, 17). We cannot simply say, “I believe” and have that be the end of our Christian journey; Jesus calls us to more than that. At the same time, if we think we’re going to earn our way to salvation by racking up good deeds, we will be deeply disappointed!
Good works flow from us naturally as the result of our faith; believers can’t help but show the love of Christ to others. We want to share the love we’ve been given by God’s saving grace, and the best way to do that is by showing others the loving ways of Jesus Christ. James says, look at Abraham, who in faith trusted God to spare his son Isaac (Genesis 22). Look at Rahab, who in faith hid Joshua’s men before the Israelites took Jericho (Joshua 2). These are people who believed in God and acted as a result of their faith.
As I reflect during this Lenten season, I look deep within my heart and soul. How is my faith? Where is it at work? And, what do those works reveal?
Tuesday Truth: Writer and lay theologian C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity, “Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, he is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts and does not seem to make any sense. The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”