Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Put Words and Belief into Action

          When I was a little girl, I wanted to learn to play the piano.  I believed I could be very good at this so my mother arranged for a wonderful lady, Mrs. Hahn, to be my teacher.  She was very precise in her methods and in addition to learning a piece on the piano, we also had to memorize a paragraph about the composer.  Most of the music was classical, and I lost interest.  After just two years, I quit my lessons.  I had learned to read music and could play a tune or two, but I had little desire to practice on a daily basis.  I believed I could do it, but I failed to practice and this was my downfall.  Belief plus practice leads to success in both musical studies as well as our Christian walk.
     Recently, I attended an event where I talked with a number of people.  The conversation came around to whether a certain person had faith in Christ.  Someone spoke up and said, "Of course, they are a believer."  I pondered over that remark.  Just saying you believe is not enough.  Life evidence goes along with the belief.  We must practice what we believe or we are just uttering platitudes.  For example, my husband is a practicing optometric physician.  This means he is putting into effect all he was trained to do when diagnosing and treating vision problems.  He also continues to study on a yearly basis so he can grow in knowledge and improve his "practice".  I feel that this is also the way Christians need to think of their walk with Christ.  We need to be practicing followers of the Lord not just "believers".
     James writes these words in his letter to the Church in Jerusalem:  "But someone will say, 'You have faith and I have works.'  Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.  You believe that God is one; you do well.  Even the demons believe - and shudder!" (James 2:18-19).  James then goes on to point out that Abraham was justified by works when he obeyed God to offer up his son Isaac.  Verses 22-24 read:  "You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness' - and he was called a friend of God.  You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone."
     While these verses in James have created some controversy and misunderstanding, I find in them a balance.  James makes it clear that faith motivates us to good works.  Abraham put feet to his faith by obeying God and doing what the Lord instructed him to do with his son Isaac.  Today, "easy believe-ism" would have us think that putting our faith into practice by doing good works is not necessary.  However, that leads to an empty faith.  As James wrote, "even the demons believe - and shudder!"  It is one thing to say, "I am a believer".  It is another thing to live it out on a daily basis.
     My mother's favorite advice to me was "Actions speak louder than words."  She was right.  What
we believe in our heart should be put into practical application in our daily activities.  If we never attend church, do not read our Bible or pray, we ought to ask ourselves if we have given our lives in commitment to Christ.  If we see a friend or family member who says they believe but never demonstrates their faith, then, in love, we need to sit down and talk with them.  Belief in Christ plus good works done as a result of grateful obedience for what Christ has done for us equals a powerful witness that others can see.  We are, after all, to glorify God by our good deeds.
     Words are cheap.  it is easy to say we believe something, but so do the demons.  If we claim to be a part of Christ's household, let our actions also demonstrate our changed heart.  Let us practice what we preach!  Selah - Soli Deo Gloria!

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