“14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?” James 2:14
I have a lemon tree growing in a planter’s pot that was planted with the seeds of lemons that came off my grandfather’s lemon tree. If you were too look at the tree you may not know that it was a lemon tree unless I told you. After several years the tree has produced a few leaves and no fruit. It is the fruit of a tree that identifies the type of tree growing. Without fruit there is no definitive way of knowing what kind of tree it is.
James 2 and Matthew 25 both attest to the necessity of evidence supporting our claims to having faith. Anyone can claim to have faith but what good is that if my life does not produce evidence to support my position? James says that such faith is powerless to save. Spiritual growth is an inward work that is evidenced by outward action.
Matthew 25 Jesus uses common daily needs as a barometer for faith. He said when I was hungry you feed me, thirsty you gave me drink, naked (poorly clothed) you clothed me, was sick or in prison and you visited me. These are needs and responses that do not require a lot of resources, just compassion.
A faith that is able to save will develop compassion in us. Compassion is not emotion, although it is often made visible with emotion. Compassion is more than feeling sorry but sympathy driven by a will to help. We can’t help everyone or know how to help in some situations but we can help someone, we can help somehow. There is one of two traps that we can fall into as we see the overwhelming needs of people around us.
- We become so overwhelmed with the quantity of needs that we do nothing.
- The needs of others become trivial in light of our goals, pursuits or desires.
Don’t allow the quantity of needs keep you from doing something. Together we can accomplish far more than we could ever do on our own. Pastor Tommy Barnett has said, “Find a need and meet it, see a hole and fill it.” If your schedule, commitments or desires are preventing you from serving, giving and growing, then it’s time to reevaluate your schedule.
Jesus taught in Matthew 25 that the evidence of authenticate faith is measured by action not intention. James says if we see our brother hungry or poorly clothed and say be warm and fed but do not help, our faith is dead. Prayer is not a pardon for compassion. STOP PRAYING. God has called you to act.
If you’re concerned that by helping others you may not be able to take care of yourself, let me debunk that debilitating myth with these encouraging scriptures.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” Lamentations 3:24
“I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.” Psalm 37:25
“Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.” Psalm 54:4
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
Don’t be afraid to give or sacrifice because God is your portion and provider. When we seek first His kingdom and righteousness He will provide for us all the things we need. God wants to bless you so that you can be a blessing to others in need. Any blessing that we hoard is not a blessing.
If there are areas in your life that are keeping you from showing evidence of faith, repent and begin to live your faith out loud. “Find a need and meet it, see a hole and fill it!”