James 2: 14-25
James 2:17 "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead," (NIV).
An old friend of mine sent me a message on Facebook yesterday that brought me to this passage. He was explaining that he has been out of church for a while now, after the one he used to attend separated and revealed a lot of what was taking place behind the scenes. Since then, he has struggled to find his way back to a church home and asked for suggestion on how to return back to religion after being away for so long. Now I won't go into all that I said, but the driving point was that in order to complete this return, he would have to decide that's what he wants to do and then do it. That brought me to this passage, and this brings me to what I think we can learn from James' words here in Chapter 2.
Do your part. James brings up an interesting topic here in talking about good deeds. He says that faith alone is useless if it is not attached to an action. It's useless to believe that God will bless the homeless when you aren't out helping yourself. It's useless to believe God will provide you with a job if you haven't filled out an application. It's useless to believe God will give you a mate,when you decline any opportunity to go on a date. In each of these situations, believing in God, His power and His sovereignty can only go so far before it's time to do something yourself.
James uses the example of Abraham offering his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice saying that if Abraham had not went through with preparing the sacrifice, then God would not have seen him as righteous even though Abraham believed that God existed, (James 2:20-24). I'll take it another step further and mention Peter walking on water. Matthew 14 tells us the story of Jesus walking on the lake to get back to the boat where his disciples were. Once on the water, the disciples were afraid and Jesus told them, "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid," (Matt. 14:27). Peter then spoke up and asked Jesus to call for him to walk on the water as well. Jesus obliged and Peter began to walk. It took a lot of faith for Peter to believe that it was Jesus he saw on that water and not just his imagination but it took even more action to actually go to Jesus. All Jesus could do was give Peter the ability to walk on the water by saying "Come.," but Peter had to take the first step on his own.
There isn't one area in our lives where faith alone has any worth. Even our salvation comes with an action. Romans 10:9-10 tells us that, "If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved," (NIV). The first thing that Paul tells us is to declare, (or confess in other versions) which is an action. It comes before believing in this passage of scripture which shows that it is equally as important as faith.
We have to take the first step in our own lives just as Peter did on the lake. We can't just settle for believing that God exists and is all powerful because as James says, "Even the demons believe that--and shudder,"(v.19). We know that "with God all things are possible," but in order for anything to happen in our lives we have to first do our part by taking the first step, (Matt. 19:26, NIV).