Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Devotionals for the Heart: Why we need faith in God and good works too

Faith and Works 
A devotional by Christa MacDonald

“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. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” –James 2:14-18 (NIV)

The book of James is a favorite of mine. Plain-spoken and convicting, he’s dropping literary bombs through the whole text. He is on fire, like an old-time revival pastor up in the pulpit preaching with every fiber of his being.

The passage above is powerful, practical wisdom, and then that kicker in verse 18, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.” Mic drop.

“Faith without works is dead.” We’ve heard it said so many times, but what does it actually mean? For me, it’s been a question I’ve asked myself at every stage of my life because faith and works at 15 can look different than it does at 50.

My family was fractured when I was growing up. Although healing and reconciliation came later, there were years of struggle. I will tell you the truth; nothing puts a chip on your shoulder faster than growing up as a have-not among the haves. It isn’t easy. You can’t help but compare yourself with those around you, and if you somehow manage to avoid it, your peers will happily remind you.

That was the lens through which I viewed the world as I grew into young adulthood. It helped me see the hypocrisy in the churches that would say all the right things but ignore the needs in the community around them. They’d support missions overseas while homelessness and poverty devastated their neighbors. What’s the point of a church that has no heart for their neighbors? If they’re writing a check but not giving of themselves, what good is it? God calls us to be salt and light. The only way we can do that is by actively participating in the world around us, not to become worldly, but to shine God’s light in the darkness.

Whenever I log on to start a day at work, whenever I interact with anyone outside of my house, I remind myself that I am not just a woman, a mom, wife, and manager, but I’m also a redeemed sinner, a Christian, and my highest calling outside my home is to show my faith by my deeds in a world that is hungry for the Gospel. Every decision I make, every action I take, I need to keep my focus on God. His priorities have to come first, not mine. Not an easy task, but it’s a vital one.

God doesn’t need Christians in gated communities to write checks for good causes and only associate with other believers. He wants us out in the world, ministering, witnessing. Whatever way He has equipped you, whatever your gifts, don’t hide them away or save them for church on the weekends. Show your faith by your deeds to the world that so desperately needs the Good News. Be a light for all.

Let’s Pray: Lord, we pray that the Holy Spirit fills us each time we step out of our doors so that we live our faith in word and deed, being the salt and light in a dark and troubled world. Help us to use the gifts you’ve given us to live the Gospel and reach the lost. In Jesus Christ's Name I pray. Amen.

Author Bio:

Christa MacDonald is a 2017 Carol Award finalist for contemporary Christian fiction.

She began her writing career at the age of eleven, filling a sketchbook with poems and short stories. After publishing a few short pieces in her college’s literary magazine she took a long hiatus during which she embarked on a few different careers, got married, had three kids, and renovated an old barn masquerading as a house. 

Her most recent work, The Redemption Road, finished the Sweet River Redemption series published by Mountain Brook Ink.

When not working or writing Christa can be found ferrying her kids around, reading, or attempting something crafty. She and her family live along the coast of New England.

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