Be still and rest in the Lord.
James 2:14-26 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith apart from works is barren? Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works.
Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.
Pray…Then Get Your Hands Dirty
I recently attended Generosity Now, an Ecumenical Stewardship Conference in Indianapolis, IN. At that conference, I was introduced to St. Francis Ministries. They do work with families and in many other ways. What caught my attention more than anything was their slogan, or better yet, a mission statement: Pray…Then Get Your Hands Dirty.
I think that a great summation of James’ words in these verses of chapter 2. I have always thought that James offered a disagreeing philosophy of faith with his letter. From Paul, we hear that we are “justified by our faith,” while James says “faith without works is dead.” I struggled with the idea that it mostly mattered what we did, rather than what we believed.
Thankfully, I grew wiser and delved deeper into the words and realized I wasn’t reading it exactly right. For, if we truly believe and desire as Jesus calls us to live, there would be a drive for us to DO what we BELIEVE. Our faith would move us to action.
So, when I listened to the ministry of St. Francis and their statement, it reminds me that we need both the prayer and the drive to do something to change the world. I am moved when I see adults share their time with children. I am amazed to see the businessman dishing soup to the homeless. I am moved when a teen stays takes an elderly lady to the doctor and spends time with her, just so she has some company. I am overwhelmed when a church surrounds a family with their love during a most devastating time. Yes, we need to pray. But we also need to get those hands dirty with the love of God.
Dear God, it is easy to sit in the pews on Sunday and pray for those in the world and those in need. But I need help to get out of the pew and put my hands and my feet to work. Give me the courage and the drive to DO the work you call us to do. Amen.
Go with God!