WEEK SEVEN, DAY FIVE, COMMON ENGLISH BIBLE COMPANION
WEEK SEVEN THEME: HOSPITALITY
DAY FIVE THEME: RADICAL HOSPITALITY
SCRIPTURE: JAMES 2:14-26
“My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it?
Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat. What if one of you said, ‘Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal’? What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs?
In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity. Someone might claim, ‘you have faith and I have action.’ But how can I see your faith apart from your actions? Instead, I’ll show you my faith by putting it into practice in faithful action.
It’s good that you believe that God is one. Ha! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble with fear. Are you so slow? Do you need to be shown that faith without actions has no value at all?
What about Abraham, our father? Wasn’t he shown to be righteous through his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? See, his faith was at work along with his actions. In fact, his faith was made complete by his faithful actions. So the scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and God regarded him as righteous. What is more, Abraham was called God’s friend.
So you see that a person is shown to be righteous through faithful actions and not through faith alone. In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute shown to be righteous when she received the messengers as her guests and then sent them on by another road?
As the lifeless body is dead, so faith without actions is dead.”
THE WORD OF GOD FOR THE PEOPLE OF GOD – THANKS BE TO GOD!
SOAKING IT IN: James couldn’t be more clear with his understanding of faith and action. He has no room for just wishing and hoping that things will be okay for those of concern, he is about seeing the need and doing the deed.
Certainly it is true that the most powerful tool available to us all is to go straight to God through Jesus in prayer. To have that direct communication with our heavenly Father is beyond imagination! Certainly we are to pray, and hold fast to all hope that comes from our heavenly Father, for ourselves and for all people, but we are also to take it a step further and put legs to our prayers. If my neighbor is in need and I simply pray for that need when I have the ability to address that need with tangible assistance, then I have missed the opportunity to be a Kingdom Dweller, to be God’s vessel!
To examine in each and every minute of each and every day why a certain person is put in our path in a very moment is realizing that I might have the very thing that other person needs, even if it is not much, I can be of help. I can show God’s love and that I care. I can DO something as God’s vessel to make a difference! If I am able to pass a bit of cash to the one holding the sign at the intersection, and maybe a pack of crackers or something tangible, that puts my prayers into action. Not only do I pray that their needs be met, I give of myself a bit toward that prayer. I’m beginning to keep things in my car that don’t go bad and some cash on hand so that I can be a blessing to that person for whatever their need might be – I can do something! I have driven past them for years offering a prayer for God’s blessings for them, but am realizing that I am to be part of that blessing. I am blessed to be a blessing!
God takes what we offer and multiplies it to be enough just like he did when he fed the thousands….we – as Kingdom People – simply need to bring out our fish and loaves. For us to hold onto anything that was never ours to begin with, we remove God’s ability to use us and work through us to meet the need of others, We therefore also miss out God blessing us above and beyond imagination. When we learn to trust God in all things – like Abraham did with the willingness to sacrifice Isaac – we submit to the knowledge that our thinking is limited and finite and God’s is unlimited and infinite. It takes us releasing our own will in favor of God’s design on our lives.
In all this, it is impossible to do without constantly reminding ourselves of Who God is and who we are in God’s sight – made in God’s image. We can trust such immense love and allow that love to flow through us but only as we are willing…those who HAVE faith and who SHOW that faith through actions urged by our Heavenly Father.
Being the Vessel is Kingdom Living! Lord, help us open our eyes and our hearts and keep our minds open to You.