I'LL BE PRAYING FOR YOU...MAYBE
Have you ever had someone come to you with a need, and through the course of the conversation (or to end it) you said, "I'll be praying for you"? However, once you walked away you completely forgot about their need, your promise to pray for it, and maybe even their name. I regret to say I have done this very thing.
The question is, what good did it do? What good was it to that person? Did they receive any help? Did they derive any comfort? Were they the recipient of any intercessory prayers on their behalf? Did it meet any of their needs?
What's worse - when we see them the next time and do one of two things:
Say a quick "Lord help them" and then tell them the bold face lie - "I've been praying for you."
OR we run the other direction and completely avoid them.
FAITH = ACTION
In the book of James, he wrote this:
What good is it, my brothers and sister, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or 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, NIV)
What James wants us to realize is that our faith is more than just BELIEVING something. Our faith is a belief in something that compels us to DO something.
He gives us a couple of examples of this in the following verses. He talked about Abraham, and how he believed God, and this belief compelled him to sacrifice his only son as a result of his faith. James 2:22 says, "You see that his faith and his actions were working together..."
He also gave us the example of Rahab, the prostitute. She believed that God had given the city of Jericho to the Israelites. And because of that belief, she was compelled to hide the Jewish spies that had come there to see the city, and saved their lives. James 2:25 says, "[she was] considered righteous for what she did..."
In both examples, faith and belief was followed up by actions. And it was the actions that were the proofs of that faith.
Benjamin Franklin said once,
“Well done is better than well said.”
This sums up James' point quite nicely. When it comes to your faith, are you just a lot of talk, or do you have actions to back it up? When you get to heaven, is the Lord going to tell you well done?
Now is the time to consider whether your actions are a reflection of your faith or your lack of it. Consider this:
When faced with a hardship, do you panic and worry or pray and trust?
When given the opportunity to be a blessing, do you make excuses or make it happen?
When seeing an injustice, do you stay silent or speak up?
When prompted by God to take a step of faith, do you run away from or toward God?
Saying you believe is God is good, but as James reminds us, "Even the demons believe that - and shudder." (James 2:19b) Belief cannot and should not be the only thing to define your faith in God. It must be accompanied by action. Your faith should compel you to DO something with what you believe. It should move you to action that can be counted as righteous in the eyes of God. The good news is, you have everything you need to do just that: God's Word, and the Holy Spirit.
The next time someone tells you about a hardship they are going through, do more than just SAY you are going to pray for them. Actually pray. And, if you can DO more, then offer to take additional steps to help when and where you can.
Then you, like James, will be showing your faith BY your deeds.
Lord, I DO believe. I have put my faith in your Son, Jesus. But lately, I have not been acting on that faith. Help me to see the needs around me as opportunities to live out my faith. I pray that you will continue to help me grow in this area, and that I will please you with a faith that is alive and active. I ask these things in Jesus' name, amen!