Monday, July 11, 2011

Faith, Works, and Everyday Life


There are times in life where I am a lot like Gideon.  I do not mean the conquering Gideon.  I mean the Gideon who was hesitant to step out in faith and constantly ask for some kind of confirmation to know I am doing what I am supposed to be doing.  I am like the Gideon who laid down a fleece night after night asking God for a confirmation than a confirmation of that confirmation for something I already knew to begin with.  I know that God has a plan for my life, I just sometimes wish He would give me a road map so I would always be heading in the right direction.   This weekend was one of those cases.  This weekend I asked for a fleece and received none and had to step out in faith with no confirmation that I was doing the right thing.  That, my friends, is faith and works.  I have faith that God wants my family to move in a certain direction, making decision to act on that faith makes it real.  I am sure we are all familiar with today's text.
What [does it] profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what [does it] profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.   James 2:14-18 NKJV
We are good at speaking of these verses in general terms.  We have faith and we have works in that we serve God.  I think where we fail sometimes is applying passages like this in terms of everyday life.  I know that is where I struggle sometimes.  It is easy to call Jesus Lord of our circumstances and that He is bigger than those problems we face. I have even written about that.  What is more difficult, though, is to make Jesus the Lord of our lives.   What I mean is that Jesus not only needs to be bigger than the problem I have, but He also has to be bigger than my own fear that prevents me from facing it.  The biggest problem we ever have in this life is our own self.  We must make Jesus bigger than our own selves.  It is only then when our faith can truly produce works. 

While that is true for our works for God, that is not the subject of today' post.  This premise is also true for day to day living.  Each day we are faced with choices that reveal the condition of our faith.  Indeed it is those choices we make day in and day out that reveal to the world where our faith lies.  Do we choose those things that cater to our flesh or do we deny our flesh and choose that which is spiritually superior?  In other words, do we have more faith in our flesh and sow to our flesh or do we have more faith in God and sow to our spirits?  God tells us that the road to life is sowing to the spirit but the road to death is sowing to our flesh.  Do we believe God when He tells us that or to we think our own desires supersede the wisdom of God?  Do we choose to get into relationships with unbelievers?  In that case, we are putting more faith in our feelings than we are in God who tells us those feelings are not of Him.  Those are but a few examples of many.  While our faith is not created by our works, our works are a reflection of our faith.  It is hard to claim you have faith in God when the choices you make day in and day out show differently.  Words of faith can not overcome a life that says otherwise. 

This also applies to the big decisions in our life.  It means trusting Him over what our circumstances may look like and it means trusting Him over your own fears of how things seem or your own desires for how you think you want things to be.  It means trusting that God knows better than our own brains when logic seems to tell us that what He says just can not be.  It means trusting God with our own happiness when every part of our flesh is telling us we would be happier going in some other direction.  If means trusting God by doing that which seems impossible over trusting ourselves in what we think will be easy.  That is where I was this weekend, and it is where I will be over the coming months.  My wife and I are moving.  We do not know where exactly, but we have a direction. We do not know what kind of house we can get with what the world tells us we have to work with, but we know that God has something very special and very wonderful for us.  I know I think I would be happier where I am, but I know that God has bigger and better plans for us.  I know what I think I want to be happy, but God knows what I need to truly experience His joy.  Just as we did this weekend, there will be other steps in faith.  There will be decisions we have to make with no miraculous fleece to tell us it is the right decision.  That is what faith is, though, and stepping out in that faith is what makes it real.  The Bible says this about faith.
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1 NKJV
If God wrote us a personal letter postmarked in Heaven with step by step instructions with an unmistakable supernatural sign each time we were about to do something telling us it was the right thing, it would not be faith at all.  I know I sometimes have a hard time in this area, but God is really exercising my faith during this time.  I pray that God does the same in all of you.  It is easy to say we have faith and "prove" it by saying that we are a Sunday school teacher, worship leader, or even a pastor.  I know it is easy to say we have faith and "prove" it by sponsoring a Compassion child and volunteering at a local soup kitchen.  Those are all good things, but that is not all that James was talking about.  How about having faith to not go out drinking with your friends?  How about having faith to trust that God will make you happy with the wife to whom He joined you?   How about having faith to leave a comfortable job for something that seems unsure except that you know God is calling you to it?  How about having faith to not get into relationships with an unbeliever, and if you have, how about the faith to trust God over your feelings and end it?  How about having faith for God to provide for you and not lie, cheat, and steal in order to make ends meet?  

Our faith is revealed in so much more than some symbolic service to God, our faith is shown through our obedience to God in our day-to-day living.  Our faith is not revealed on some stage leading a church in worship, but how you treat others when those people you lead are not around.  Our faith is revealed not as we serve side-by-side with believers, but how we act when there are no believers around.  Our faith is not revealed in how well we teach a Sunday school lesson, but in how we live that lesson ourselves the rest of the week.  That is the witness that the rest of the world sees.  Faith without the life to back it up is dead, what does your life reveal about your faith?
But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? James 2:20 NKJV

No comments:

Post a Comment