My heart has been quite heavy for a couple of days. Some close friends of our’s lost their father. This man was more than a father and was an important person in so many people’s lives. I never had the opportunity to meet him, but his death has given me a lot of thinks and feels.
This morning, my bible study group and I studied chapter 2 verses 14 thru 26 of James. James is one of my favorite books of the bible, right up there with Hebrews, Matthew’s gospel and Ephesians. Anyway, the verses today spoke about how faith without works is essentially a false faith.
For centuries people have argued about the faith and works topic… People claiming you have to “earn” your way to heaven by the deeds you do. Others claiming that by faith alone we are saved, but in that faith your life will be transformed thus causing you to perform works. I believe in the latter, not that my position matters for today’s post or to you, the reader, at all.
My friend’s father was definitely a man of faith, which was shown in his works as well as his testimony. His life was completely devoted to serving the Lord in different capacities, some of which included prison ministry and pastoring a church for over 20 years. It really has me reflecting on my reading this morning…
All too often we shy away from works. People think their lives are too busy. I know that’s how I lived. I commonly “threw money at” the “problem.” That’s how I viewed it. I viewed service work as a burden that I didn’t have time for so I just threw money at it to make me feel like I was doing something.
Some days I would get opportunities to personally hand money (or food) to the homeless in my dealings downtown or pay for someone else’s meal in a drive through but more often then not it was addressed by shoving a check in the offering basket being passed around. I’ve decided that this is not works at all. Throwing money in a collection plate isn’t service work, and it pretty much isn’t a fruit of faith in Christ.
Another way I used to think I was serving was to be part of some church initiative. While I was donating my time, yes, I wasn’t exactly impacting/touching people around me. Holding up signs on a street corner isn’t the same as sitting with an elderly person, talking with them or grocery shopping for them. Being on a building committee at a church isn’t the same as giving food to the homeless or getting them to the services they need.
This verse really sticks in my side:
“You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?” – James 2:19-20 NLT
This summer we had an opportunity to serve with the kids, on a couple of occasions. It was an excellent experience. It allowed us to explain we were doing that activity because others cannot do it for themselves or to show our gratitude to others. It’s something we plan on continuing with our kids.
It reminds me of family I grew up with where, for Thanksgiving, they often went and served at a food kitchen instead of eating the meal at home. I always thought that was awesome… And it’s no wonder that all those kids have a gentle heart and a serving attitude, two of them with careers in healthcare directly interacting with patients.
So, while my heart aches for my friends and the entire family (especially their mother who has already been through so much), I am reminded by the activities of this man’s life that the fruits of our faith will be displayed in TRUE faith… LIFE-CHANGING faith.
I love you guys.