Friday, January 1, 2010

Faith or Deeds?

What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 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? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

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.

James 2:14-18

Where does character lie?  Is it in our faith, or is it in what we do?  Are we considered righteous if we have faith without deeds?  Of course not--James makes that obvious: "faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." 

What if we have deeds without faith? 

Some would argue that is simply never going to happen.  I think it happens all the time.  A person does the "right" thing, but for the wrong reasons.  Perhaps that is just what he was raised to do.  Maybe she is trying to do good to eventually reach "Nirvana."  People of all different beliefs (some of them--not all) do "good deeds" from the conclusions of their own world view--regardless of whether that world view holds any truth whatsoever. 

It is not enough to have good deeds.  Jesus was disgusted by the Pharisees.  These men were religious scholars, who went by the book and never broke any of God's laws.  They disgusted Christ, though, because their hearts were not right.  They didn't love people.  They didn't love God.  They were self-righteous.  Nobody likes the self-righteous.

So what's the answer?  Both.  Remember what James says: faith, without action, is dead. 

Imagine if Moses had obeyed God and performed all the signs and wonders in Egypt, led the Israelites out of Egypt, and to the banks of the Red Sea.  Then, imagine that as Pharaoh's army approached, God had told Moses to stick his staff into the sand and Moses had just said, "What!?  That doesn't make any sense."   Pharaoh's army surrounds the Israelites and takes them back to Egypt as slaves once again.  Moses and all the people would have been left asking God, "What was that all about?  Why did you perform all those signs and wonders in Egypt, only to bring us back as slaves once more?"  It wouldn't be long before those miracles were forgotten and all faith was lost.  The plagues in Egypt would have fallen in the cracks of history, lucky if they were remembered even as a footnote in history, and no one today would know who Moses was.

We must have faith.  We must act.  God will enable us to do whatever He asks of us.  We must follow his leading in accordance with our faith.  When we act, we will see God using us, and our faith will increase.  As our faith increases, we will better be able to follow God's will for our lives.  It builds upon itself.  Alternatively, we can just do nothing, see nothing, and receive nothing.

What would God have you do today?  Will you do it?

1 comment:

  1. God is good! Do you think that people should act to prove their faith real? or..maybe for true believers, good acts are just a consequence of their True faith in God? I mean do we need to have a reason to do the right thing?