“Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
— James 2:17
If you have ever gone bowling, you know that the real value of a strike lies in what follows. A strike by itself is worth 10 points, but the real benefit lies in the pins you knock down in the next two throws. Throwing well could make that first strike worth 30 points!
The life of faith and discipleship is something like that. Following up is all-important. It is one thing to hear the gospel, and it is quite another to embrace the gospel fully and be transformed by it. It is wonderful to receive forgiveness, and yet a richer blessing awaits all who extend that forgiveness to others. It is a joy to be welcomed into the family of God, and even greater joy comes with inviting and welcoming others.
The good deeds that James is talking about are “follow-up throws” that multiply and expand the gift of faith—so much so that failing to follow up can render that faith lifeless.
We’ve been reflecting on God’s heart for the poor and what that means for us. Learning about poverty is one thing. Believing that we are called to compassionate service is another. And following up with action for the poor and others in need makes knowing and believing genuine.
After all, what good does it do a hungry person if all you give are caring thoughts and words?
God, we thank you for teaching us in your Word and showing us in Jesus how to live. Make our faith alive in good deeds for Jesus’ sake. Amen.