In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
— James 2:17
“Goldilocks and the Three Bears” is a fairy tale about a girl who got lost in the woods. She stumbled across the house of three bears. She entered their home, ate their porridge, sat in their chairs, and fell asleep on one of their beds. Not only is this a fun story for children and families, but it can help us resolve one of the tensions in the Christian faith.
For centuries Christians have been pondering the relationship between grace, faith, and works and how they relate to salvation. In Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul teaches that we are saved by grace through faith and not by works. However, James writes, “A person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone” (James 2:24). Critics of Christianity say these passages show that the Bible is full of contradictions and cannot be trusted.
But the point James is making is that the Bible and Christianity can be like a story that comes alive only in the mind but not in the heart. Like the story of Goldilocks, it has good lessons but lacks the power to truly change lives. Only when God moves from being known in our minds to being embraced in our hearts as Lord does faith become true, living, and saving. When the gift of true faith is present, God’s Spirit changes us, and our lives begin to produce the good works of the fruit of the Spirit!
Lord, fill our minds with your knowledge, but also fill our hearts with your presence and produce in us fruit that is pleasing to you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.