Today’s Reading: James 2:21-26 and 5:10-11
I love the passages God brought me to this morning as I rested in His presence! In his letter, James uses the faith of three individuals to show us how faith, actions and relationship work together. First, he brings our focus on Abraham.
How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless? Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. – James 2:20-24
Romans 4:18-21 further defines Abraham’s faith: Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham KEPT HOPING – believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!” And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead – and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham NEVER WAVERED in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.
Time passed between the moment God promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky & the sand on the seashore and the moment Sarah became pregnant. Time passed between the moment Abraham was told by God to sacrifice Isaac and the moment God provided the lamb. Time passed and yet Abraham’s faith did not waver, it did not weaken. He stayed strong in his faith and continued to give glory to God, FULLY CONVINCED or persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.
Can you relate to Abraham? Perhaps time is passing for you between the promise God has given you and its fulfillment. Do not waver in unbelief. Hold tight to God’s promises, giving glory to God and be FULLY PERSUADED that God does have the power to do what He has promised!
Let’s skip ahead to the last chapter of James’ letter, when he talks about another individual whose faith relied on waiting on God’s timing. Let’s consider Job and the endurance that gave evidence of his faith.
For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy. – James 5:10-11
When we are in the midst of suffering, James encourages us to not get impatient and begin to grumble but instead to be patient and stand firm. We can’t rush God. We often have the tendency to go ahead of God and try to push His hand but God calls for us to patiently wait on Him. In the midst of this waiting, we are strengthened in our faith.
We don’t always know why God is allowing something in our life but we know we can trust Him. I love this quote from Melissa Moore Fitzpatrick, Beth Moore’s daughter: “Like Job, we endure cycles of suffering and restoration, sometimes without the slightest clue as to God’s specific purpose. Being a child of God means accepting God is fully free to do as He sees fit and abiding in His core attributes. Our heritage as God’s people is to stand firmly on the platform of God’s person, knowing He moves exclusively in ways consistent with His covenant commitment, even if we cannot grasp them with finite minds” [Mercy Triumphs, Beth Moore].
In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. – James 2:25-26
Rahab also had to go through a time of trusting and waiting. She helped the spies escape and then she waited – waited for the day of her own rescue. While the world around her continued to judge her by her past actions of sin and prostitution, God saw Rahab’s faith as evidenced in her heroic actions. Rahab was not considered righteous in spite of the sinful decisions she had made, she was counted as righteous because of her faith in the God of Israel and her willingness to put her own life at risk in order to be used by God for the preservation of His people.
Can you relate to Rahab? Do you desire to be defined by your faith but others continue to define you by your mistakes? If so, please see yourself through the eyes of a God who loves you, who calls you to faith and who has changed you. As Beth Moore states, “He who was, who is, and who is to come sees each one of us. He sees who we were, who we are, and who we will become” [Mercy Triumphs, Beth Moore].
Dear God, help us to trust you as Abraham did – to trust You to do what only You can do. Help us to live not on the basis of what we see we cannot do but on what we know you can do. Like Job and Rahab, let our actions be the seamless unity of believing and doing. Today, may you find that our faith is not barren but that our faith is fruitful! Amen.