2005-02-02 - By What I Do
James 2:14-18 (NIV) What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
Our daughter recently returned from a month in London. She was there doing a study abroad course. It was a wonderful experience for her. They visited not only Christian cathedrals, but also Hindu and Buddhist temples. These experiences always make a parent a little nervous about the influence they could have on his child.
I was very proud of my daughter when she said to me, "the other religions seem to have to work to gain favor from their God. Don't we just have to believe in Christ?"
It is a great observation on her part and a discerning question. Christianity is the only religion that does not require us to rely on our own selves, in order to be saved. Instead, we rely on the power of Christ to save us; we rely on faith in Christ only. For it is by faith that we are saved, not our works.
Now you might say, "great David, I have faith and faith alone, then God and I are on good terms, and I go to Heaven." Some will even take the faith piece and use it as a license to go on and live life as they please. It makes faith into a "fire" insurance policy against an eternity apart from God.
But James said it all in verse 17 above. Faith without works is dead. So we have to understand that we are not doing works to earning favor, in order to gain acceptance from God. Rather, we do works out of our gratitude for what Christ did for us on the cross. See the difference? Other religions believe their works earn gratitude from their God. Christians do works out of our gratitude to God.
So finally as I thought about this conversation and read the above passage, I asked myself: Can people around you see your faith through your works? Or do they only see a dead faith? I challenge you to ask yourselves the same question.
Father, thank you so much for what you have done for us. Thank you for being a loving God. Help us to be more grateful for all you have done for us. Help us express our gratitude in a way that may impact those around us. In Christ's name. Amen.
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