This has been tugging on my heart for awhile. It’s probably been this way for years, but it’s only recently that I’m understanding it. James talks about faith and deeds, and that without good works your faith is dead.
“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
– James 2:17 NIV
In it’s most simplest form my good works—my actions—ought to come out because of my faith. Just because I know and believe that the Son of God came to die for the sins of humankind doesn’t make me a man of faith. Even James said that the demons also believe in Jesus1. To be a Christian is much greater than to just believe.
I’ve been wrestling with the words “faith” and “faithfulness” as well. At first I was incorrectly using them as somewhat synonymous of each other. But that’s not correct (semantically speaking). But I knew the two words were related to each other so I just kept using them with each other in a synonymous way. I incorrectly thought because of my faith in God would produce God’s faithfulness to me. Now, I never actually spoke of that misguided theology, but that is how I lived much of my Christian life. In other words, as long as my prayer and worship life was good with God (i.e my faith), He would continue to bless me as he promised (i.e. His faithfulness).
But I completely missed the point about God’s faithfulness (even though it’s been taught sermon after sermon, study after study, and story after story). That wrongful theology puts myself first before God instead God before me. I unknowingly did life in such a way that I still depended on myself and hoped to do life in such a way that God would continue to bless me. I missed the point that God is so much bigger than I could ever imagine for a much bigger life for me to live in order to glorify His name for Himself. And no matter what I do, His faithfulness will prevail out of the constant good and love that He is.
So where does that put my faith and what does my faith look like? James made it abundantly clear that my faith will produce good works. When I not only believed but declared that Jesus Chris is my Savior and Master, I became transformed and no longer need to be enslaved by the desires of this world2. I don’t need to fall into the patterns of this world. The things that I desired most should no longer be of this world. Instead my eyes have been opened to the pure truth and goodness of what God has in store for me. And before I make the mistake and turn this story He wrote into something I take for myself, I should make it clear that His story that He has written in my life will be about His goodness and faithfulness. My willingness to submit to the Holy Spirit makes my own soul aware that I was bought with a significant price. It is through that transformation my faith in Christ would be forged. I would live life to reflect what He has done for me. I would show others grace, love, patience, kindness, and goodness. I would recognize that every person I interacted with was also created in the very same image of God.
So I feel that’s the kind of faith James speak of. That I have been transformed and my faith speaks for itself. I know I am always a work in progress, but the very first fruits of this work is shown by my faith that I now outwardly reflect all the things that God has done for me.
Why did I need to write this? Well, lately I haven’t been reflecting my faith. I have the general “faith” that people speak of, but not the faith that James spoke of. I find myself talking more about my faith than living it out. And that is evident in my desire to go after the things that God has told me to wait and be patient. I want to get back to the James kind of faith he wrote about. I don’t need to talk about the goodness of God. I can merely show it through my actions. I don’t need to say a single word about His love, I just need to do it.
God will always be bigger than I can ever imagine Him to be. He will always work in greater ways that I can ever fathom. This life He has redeemed is His for His will to glorify His name. I pray that I never forget that. I pray that I would no longer put Him before any of my own desires. I pray that I will always yield to Him in every way He has called me to.
And most of all, whether I obey His every Word or continually fail, I know that He is forever constant in faithful in all He does.