A Line in the Sand

Jms. 2:18 “Someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds and I will show you my faith by what I do.”

Many people are confident their good deeds in life will earn them favor with God. They see no need for the transforming faith referred to in the previous verses. That’s why James included verse 10, to tell us that one sin makes us guilty lawbreakers, needy for forgiveness and that transforming faith.

The person who draws a line in the sand with deeds on one side and faith on the other is delusional. If the deeds don’t arise from a heart of genuine faith, they are worthless in God’s kingdom. If the faith produces no deeds to love and bless people, it is worthless, lifeless faith and counts for nothing in God’s kingdom. Genuine faith can only be demonstrated to the human eye by deeds of love and kindness. God would be able to see it without those deeds, of course – but that’s the sticking point. It would not be genuine, so what God would see is a person declaring his belief in God with no accompanying behavior changes – not a true believer at all.

The good things we do as we are being transformed are not for the purpose of earning favor with God. They are empowered by him and arise out of our gratitude that he has shown mercy and grace to us by giving us faith, redeeming us and setting us on that path of transformation.

I have been absolutely astounded to note God changing my heart, putting love for people within me. There is much yet to be done in this heart of mine but I rejoice at the changes God is accomplishing, leading to decreasing self-occupation (bit by bit), making room in my attention, in my heart, for love to other people in word and deed. This is one of the great confirmations to my soul that I am a child of God.

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