What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:14-17)
This week I’ve been studying and reflecting on this passage. James is writing to fellow believers scattered all over the area (as am I!), desiring to encourage them in their walk with Jesus as they were facing an increasingly hostile environment (as are we!). He writes in this section that true faith, that which sustains and enlivens us, is more than words, more than right theological thinking, more than knowing what is right and wrong: true faith is evidenced through action. Increasing deeds of compassion and benevolence. A deepening desire to reach out to others, especially those who have been marginalized and who are hurting around us. Good intentions are great, only if they lead to action.
How often, whether its in prayer, in church, or just going about my normal activities, does a suggestion come into my mind, to reach out to another person? Someone I haven’t seen for a while, or who is hurting, or who is facing or gone through a tough situation. “I should give them a call, write a note, invite them to share a meal with me, give them a gift…..” But then, just as quickly as the idea comes, it leaves, and nothing is done. I don’t think I’m alone in this. Could it be that the Spirit has placed that idea in my/your head, and is asking us to act on it? Especially if it is a gracious, kind, compassionate act, it probably does come from God. I think of them as “seeds” of the kingdom: as we do them, they become seeds that God may use in their lives. As He does, we, too, are blessed.
Here is my suggestion for you this week: carry with you, especially in your times of prayer, some means to write down or make a note of those “suggestions” that come to mind, then look them over later when you have the time to reflect more and perhaps act on them. Ask the Spirit to reveal to you which of those ideas are from Him. And then, as you sense the Spirit’s leading, follow James’ words here: do something. And may God bless you and them as you step out in faith.