Some things from my past chased me down this weekend. And I let them in. I bid them permission to have a good romp over my heart and self-esteem and perspective. I let them temporarily drown me in doubt and questions and shame and fear.
The last thing on my mind is concentrating on James 2:14-16 and the interconnectedness and interdependence of faith and works. It would be much easier to wallow in old wounds and wail.
But faith and works. It’s still all connected – even to my trials and failures. In all things, I need faith in God and his unwavering goodness – whether I fully understand that goodness or not. And out of that flows works. Works don’t just require me to do a good deed. Faith doesn’t just mean that trite recitation of an internet quote on courage or a Bible verse cross stitched onto a pillow.
Faith means simply holding on to what God promised. Works means simply stepping forward. One footstep. It means shouldering that heaviness and looking upward when I don’t think I can. Faith means I stop my running and turn to look at what is haunting me and seek God’s truth in it. Works mean I grab on to that truth, breathe it in, breathe it out, and let it propel me onward.
Faith and works.
So many times I strip it down to exclusively random acts of kindness and channeling Mother Theresa’s philanthropy. But sometimes, like Abraham, faith and works translate into walking up a mountain to sacrifice the one thing I hold dearest, because Christ has sacrificed everything on my behalf. Sometimes, like Rahab, they manifest as giving the sworn enemy shelter and help, because I was once an enemy of the cross and Christ saved me from the destruction I deserved anyway.
And sometimes, they reveal themselves purely, yet painfully, as forgiving the one person who has hurt me most.
Because I have been forgiven of everything.
So, I say words with my mouth. But can that faith save me? Can that kind of forgiveness heal and free? I flippantly profess many things. I align myself superficially to many worthy causes. Ah, but even the least committed can do that. I say I believe. Even the demons believe that there is one God!
So, I say them again and this time I close my eyes and hands and heart around His truth as I say them. I think on his grace and blessings and count them.
And I keep counting.
His love does not end. His mercies are new every morning. Again. Each breath – a gift. Each interaction – a divine opportunity to see another facet of my Creator. Each failure – another evidence of the beauty of grace.
And still I count on. And I love.
True faith is based on Christ. True faith transforms. True faith spills out into perpetual action.
True faith blossoms into fruit that the world can eat and know the goodness and mercy and glory of God. Because we have been loved first.
A gift, so that I cannot boast. But neither can I hold it in.
“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph. 2:8-10 NIV)
Check out The End of Hypocrisy message series at http://discovergrace.com/messages/0