"...Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." - James 2:17
This is a pretty common phrase in the church today, isn't it? Often it's used to clarify the importance of works in the life of a Christian…in other words, what are you DOING that proves you’re a follower of Christ? Where’s the evidence of faith?
But this kind of thinking may miss the point of James 2. Let’s flip back to Ephesians for a moment.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” - Ephesians 2:8-10
Yes, faith without works is dead. But works without faith is equally as dead. And both are useless. All of Scripture points to this.
Dallas Willard often said, “Grace is not opposed to effort. It is opposed to earning.”
The moment I work to appear holy and righteous, to please others, or to add something of my own to the cross – to make myself worthy of the cross, I miss the point. I fail to understand the totality of Jesus' death and resurrection. I inadvertently cheapen grace!
I cannot add to the cross. It is finished; my debt has been paid. But I am HIS workmanship. You are are HIS workmanship. And according to Ephesians 2:10, we were created in Christ Jesus for good works which God has already prepared for us to walk in!
Father, We may not be able to add anything of value to what Jesus has done, but goodness, we can and should respond to what He has done. To what You have done. May we have faith that works – not in an effort to earn anything – but out of a desire to serve You, our Creator God who has written stories for us far greater than we can write for ourselves. You graciously work out Your goodness on earth through us. May we be people who understand who we are, whose we are, and why we were created, and may our faith compel us to walk in good works which You have prepared. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Today, there is someone in your path who has been prepared for you to love in Jesus’ name. There is a work for which you were specifically created. Will you accept your mission for today? Go with confidence and grace, knowing that our God has gone before you in preparation.
See you Sunday!