Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Faith and Works by Cliff Silliman

As a young believer I decided to read the New Testament from front to back. I kept going and ran into the book of James. I got more excited about my faith as God spoke to me through His word. That word continues to speak to me fresh each time I read it.

My wife asked me the other day if I had read James lately. I gladly open the Bible and went to see what would resonate in my heart anew. I wondered if it would be an old familiar verse like "count it all joy brethren…” or “let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak…” or “pure and undefiled religion is this…” or would it be in the verses about the tongue? Maybe the Lord would highlight to me “draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Maybe I would sense something special in the verse that talks about the laborer who mows your field--as a guy with lawn business appreciate the Lord speaking about what I physically do. Maybe He would reveal more depth to me about healing from the verses in chapter five, or provide me encouragement from seeing that I am just like Elijah. All these things passed through my mind as I prayed and open to the Book of James. 

What jumped off the page starts in the second chapter of James, verse 14, "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?" Continuing in verse 17, ”Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” And verse 18, “I will show you my faith by my works.” and the kicker is verse 22, “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made complete?” Wow! Do my actions reveal that I have faith? Has my faith so permeated me that I reveal that I have faith in the living resurrected Christ?

Many times I am abundantly aware of my shortcomings. The devil is good at reminding me of them, trying to cause my focus to be diverted from what is good and holy. But here is scripture calling me to look and see if my actions really reveal that I believe Jesus is with me 24/7. Do my actions speak of the glory of the kingdom of my God? Have I yielded today to His Lordship over every area of my life? Ah these verses also reveal that it is a work of God in my life leading me into deeper and deeper faith through works. Through the process of applying my faith, and having compassion for others, my faith will deepen.

Not just the visible actions like when I went on mission trip to Mississippi to help after Hurricane Katrina, but how I handle my role as husband, father of eight, employee, friend, homeowner, businessman, person in the community, even those actions that no one would see but me, they are all a part of the process of works that complete my faith, that cause me to grow into to being more pleasing to Jesus who I love with all my heart.

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