I already have faith. Why work?
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
James 2:14-17 ESV
I wanted to tell you that salvation is NEVER faith AND works. It is by faith alone. (Read The Greatest Love Story Ever Told) However, faith doesn’t only lead us to salvation but also compels us to do good works to others as a result of being saved (Ephesians 2:10).
That’s why we have to constantly check our hearts with these questions:
Does our faith do us good? Does it do good to other people? Is it beneficial?
Faith is not only an internal thing. It is an evolution that would happen from the inside out. From our heart to our mouth. From our mind to our actions.
Work Completes Our Faith
It doesn’t mean that it completes our faith for salvation rather it completes the faith that God gives us to walk as christians in pursuit to becoming Christ-like in character. Just as Jesus did not keep His power, wisdom, and riches to Himself but went places to share them to people, we are also ought to do the same.
Since we have faith in God, and we have God Himself, then there is no reason for us not to be able to extend the grace and blessings that God is showering upon us. We are called to reach out and help people who are less fortunate than us. We are called to share Jesus and His love for them.
James in his book reminds us that faith will show an evidence for us for those around us. It doesn’t remain in our hearts and minds but is released through our words and actions. Which is probably one of the hardest things we Christians will find doing.
Sometimes, when a person comes to us for help, all we can offer is a prayer. Don’t get me wrong. A prayer is powerful, that’s true! (James 5:16) However, there are times when we just use prayer as an excuse for us to do less effort in helping and attending those who actually need the benefit of our abilities (and I myself guiltily confess). Every time we tell them ‘May you have peace. I’ll pray for you.’, it’s like telling God ‘Lord, just do your thing.’
Actually, there’s nothing wrong with our dependence to God. As a matter of fact, He wants us to depend on Him like little children. However, there is a fine line between when we would just have to surrender God something, and when we should act upon it as how God wants us to.
Work Activates Our Faith
Becoming a christian will have us want to know God and understand His word. We enjoy learning and discovering new things about God and that is really good! (Read more on Benefits on Meditating on God’s Word) Because His word serves as guide to our christian walk and it helps us avoid the cliffs during sufferings. However, it is so easier for us to learn His word than applying it.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15 ESV
As what Paul told Timothy, we are to study the word well so that we may understand and discern God’s will for us. Yet, that doesn’t end there. ‘Approved unto God… rightly dividing the word of truth’ means that after we study His word, we should be able to know what to do with it and handle it rightly. We should be able to apply His word correctly in every circumstances and situations that we have (2 Corinthians 5:9). We have to understand that His word is for us to do what He purposed us to do: to serve Him and His people. And that obviously includes helping other people.
Studying God’s word is more than a scholarly object for our minds to be filled with but a continuous application to a changed life that meets God’s purpose for us.
When we do good things towards people, from speaking encouraging words up to helping the poor, we are actually exercising our faith. It helps us to see the greatness of God. His love and compassion towards people, and how He works in our lives. We experience God and His goodness and His love. It will help us see how faithful God is to His promise that He will provide for us.
And that faith will grow from us towards others.
I do hope that when the opportunity to help others comes, we’ll grab it immediately thinking that it’s an open door for us to exercise our faith and to honor God through it. It may be hard at first but let’s start from doing small things at home, at school or at work, with the trust that God is always there to provide, and the hope that Jesus, being the source of our faith, will perfect it in the right time.
[Insight on Gospel Demonstrated Series last May 6, 2018 @ Victory Katipunan]