10/05/W – Faith and Works

Ezekiel 38:1-23; James 2:1-17; Psalms 116:1-5; Proverbs 24:26

NT: “My brothers and sisters, do not show favoritism as you hold on to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if someone comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and a poor person dressed in filthy clothes also comes in, if you look with favor on the one wearing the fine clothes and say, “Sit here in a good place,” and yet you say to the poor person, “Stand over there,” or “Sit here on the floor by my footstool,” haven’t you made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Didn’t God choose the poor in this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him? …Speak and act as those who are to be judged by the law of freedom. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has not shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but does not have works? Can such faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, stay warm, and be well fed,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it? In the same way faith, if it does not have works, is dead by itself.” (‭‭James‬ ‭2:1-5, 12-17‬ ‭CSB)

The mature believer in Christ does more than just talk about his faith, he lives his faith. We ultimately behave according to our beliefs. If we say we believe one thing, but behave in another way, we don’t actually believe what we preach and have deceived ourselves into thinking that we are something that we are not. They way we treat people reveals what we truly believe about God and if we truly believe His word, will and ways are true and righteous.

With God, socioeconomic status, race, gender, mental acuity, earning ability, talent level, and the like have no bearing on a person’s value. Christ did not sacrifice his life only for the Jew… only for the rich or only for the poor… only for men…only for the talented. Christ offered His life for all, and anyone who places their faith on His life, death, resurrection and ascension are redeemed, grafted into God’s family, and made joint-heirs with Jesus. If we truly believe that, then we will behave accordingly. If we truly believe that, we won’t show favoritism. If we truly believe that, then classism, sexism, racism, etc. should all be absent from our lives.

God is righteous and just in all His ways, but He is also merciful, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love (Psalm 145:8). If we believe that to be true, and we claim to be followers of God’s word, will and ways; we won’t just talk about compassion or wish for compassion – we will be compassionate and act compassionately. We show our faith – what we truly believe – not by what we say or write, but what we actually do. Living and active faith moves one to act and do. Without action that aligns with faith, what one calls faith is just mere agreement or mental ascent – it is not life-changing faith.

Psalms: “I love the Lord because he has heard my appeal for mercy. Because he has turned his ear to me, I will call out to him as long as I live. The ropes of death were wrapped around me, and the torments of Sheol overcame me; I encountered trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!” The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is compassionate.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭116:1-5‬ ‭CSB)

Psalm 116 is a Passover psalm typically recited or sung at the end of the Passover meal. Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26 tell us that after the Passover meal, Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn before they went to the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane. It is very likely that this was the hymn that they sang. The disciples had no idea what was going to happen that night, but Jesus did. Imagine how profound it was for Jesus as He sang these words, knowing that He was about to both experience the words of this psalm and become the ultimate fulfillment of this psalm. God the Father is merciful and compassionate. He desires to save. Jesus believed that fully and acted accordingly. His faith wasn’t just talk. Jesus walked it out, knowing that God would save Him by both gracing Him for the trial ahead and raising Him from the dead to live for eternity. Jesus also knew that He was the promised salvation and the expression of God’s compassion to the world. So He knowingly went to the garden and allowed the ropes of death and the torments of Sheol to wrap around Him and overcome Him for our sakes. For those who truly have faith in Christ, should we be less willing to have our faith move us to action as we trust fully in the Lord?

Prayer: Lord, I thank You that Your word about Yourself is true, and your word, will, and ways are good, pure, holy and righteous. I believe that, and I place my faith on that. Help my faith in You and Your word, will and ways to truly transform me and move me to act according to what I believe. Help me to not just be a hearer, but a doer – motivated by living and active faith in You. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

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