What we do says a lot about what we say we believe. It’s like the premise that “actions speak louder than words.” It’s pretty easy to say we have faith in our hearts, but if that faith isn’t prompted to move, act, or produce fruit, is that genuine faith?
What we believe in our hearts should be evident in the way we live our lives. While we might believe God in our hearts and want to do what pleases Him, it’s the evidence and fruit that comes from how we live, speak, and what we do that shows the genuineness our faith.
I believe that’s why James makes the point in James 2:14-26 that it doesn’t amount to much if we claim to have faith and be believers in God, if we don’t also put feet and action to our faith and do what God has prompted us to do according to His Word.
As James says in James 2:17 (Amplified), “So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead).”
God is teaching us that our faith becomes activated and grows in power by the Spirit in our lives as we live it out. It actually looks a lot like cultivating an obedient heart, loving and looking out for the needs of others, doing the right thing even when it’s not easy or convenient, and reflecting the love, grace, and mercy of Jesus to people in our world.
As we go through life, we will encounter many situations or needs that will give us an opportunity to put our faith into action. And in those moments, God wants us to grow and mature so our faith isn’t just checking a box to secure our eternal destiny, but gives us an opportunity to be a living, breathing, beautiful, fruitful display of God’s faithfulness, grace, love, and power for others to see.
When we step out in obedience to minister love, grace, and help to someone in need, when we do the right thing, we’re putting into practice what God has told us to do. And each time we do, it fans the flame of faith in us as we see how God works through our simple acts of obedience. That’s when it grows past being just a theory or good idea for others, and it begins to produces fruit in our lives and strengthens and builds our faith.
We don’t have to worry about proving ourselves to Jesus – He sees our hearts, and He is faithful to walk alongside us as we grow and learn. He is not asking us to start striving or performing through a bunch of good deeds or works in order to measure up, earn salvation, or stay on His good side. The kind of good works we’re called to engage in are ones that bear witness on the outside to the faith and belief we hold on the inside.
Most of the time, God has made it rather simple for us, but even so, it does require action. It may be that God prompts us to notice and help someone in our world who has a need, instead of side-stepping or giving only a passing glance when we have it in our ability and power to help. (For a great picture of this, read the example of the Samaritan man in Luke 10:25-37.)
If we can learn to see the opportunities that come into our lives as not merely an opportunity to do a good deed, but a key way our faith is strengthened and outworked, we may begin to see some extraordinary, miraculous things in our time we never could have imagined God could do in and through us. Our faith will grow stronger and richer, not because our actions are what makes the difference, but because God shows up in power through our faith and does a mighty work through us, for our good, for the benefit of others, and for His glory.
I love the “Hall of Faith” chapter in Hebrews 11 because we see how so many legends in the Bible who lived by faith and did what God told them to do, and as a result, saw miraculous wonders take place.
As we grow and learn to do the same, we’ll be like those who “through acts of faith, toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves…” (Heb 11:33).
I believe we all want to experience that kind of faith, and we can grow by the power of His Spirit at work in and through us, in Jesus name.
Andrea Howey is a hand lettering artist from Dallas, Texas. She uses hand lettering to share her heart and the message of hope, truth, and faith found in the Word of God. Her aim is for people to be encouraged in heart, strengthened in faith, and above all, point people to know Jesus personally and intimately.
You can find Andrea and her beautiful handwritten words of encouragement on Instagram at: @andrearhowey.
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