Photo by Josep Castells on Unsplash
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
When I grew up in Arizona, part of summer included the “rainy season.” I looked forward to the afternoon storm clouds gathering, the lightning starting in the distance. The lightning was always followed by thunder. I learned that you could tell how far away the storm was by counting the seconds between the lightning and the thunder. As a rule of thumb, I’d divide the seconds by 5 to figure out how many miles away the storm was. Thunder always followed the lightning.
In our epistle lesson today, James tells us about another thing that follows along. Works … they follow faith. James writes, “I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18) Just as thunder always follows lightning, works follow true faith. We don’t do good works in order to earn our faith. Faith is a gift from God. Knowing God loves and cares for us, we’re freed to do works of love in faith. Why? Because, even if we give a hungry person our food or give up our clothes to someone else, we know God our Father will care for our needs. We don’t worry about whether we’ll have enough for ourselves.
James provides an example for how faith is demonstrated by works with how we treat people who come into our midst. In his example he contrasts the treatment of a wealthy and a poor person. The wealthy person can return favors given him. Or perhaps, to earn the wealthy person’s favor, one might treat them well hoping to gain their favor. On the other hand, a poor person can’t repay a favor given to him. James says that when we decide how we treat someone, based on their ability to return the favor or in the hopes of being repaid, we fail to live by Jesus’ Word, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (James 2:8) Faith in God and His promises, involves trusting Him in all things to include that He will provide for our needs, both in this life and in eternal life.
The reality is that we are all hopeless beggars. We’re stuck in the endless cycle of sin which leads to death (Romans 6:23). However – not because we deserve it, can earn it, or can ever hope to pay God back for it – He loves us and grants us forgiveness of our sins and eternal life purely out of His grace, mercy, and love. In response to His love, expressed through His Son, Jesus Christ, we’re freed to do works of love in faith for others, without concern for our needs. We trust God to care for our needs … including our most critical needs … forgiveness of sin and eternal life.
God places many among us who’re in great need. I’m thankful to each of you who, in faith, trust God and His provision through your time, talent and treasure. If you’re looking for other ways to serve God in faith, we’re always in need of volunteers to support our food pantry, homeless ministries, outreach ministries, childcare ministry during worship services, and other areas. If interested, please see me or Shawn. We’d love to put you in touch with ways for your works to follow your faith!
In Christ’s Love,