James 2:17 (NIV) "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."
James 2:24 "You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone."
Don't look down Hester, whatever you do, don't look down. These were the only thoughts I could muster as I inched my way up the oversize evergreen tree. I am not a thrill seeker but I figured this would be an enriched time of bonding with the women.
Last weekend a group of ladies and I braved the zip line at Trinity Pines Retreat Center in the mountains of Idaho. The zip-line is 800 ft. long, but first, participants must climb 40 feet up the tree in order to ride the zip-line. Looks like a piece of cake...from the ground!
I went up second and the gal in front of me did it with such ease, I was confident to do the same. Rung by rung my arms and legs moved upward toward the wooden platform forty feet above. Climbing the tree was harder than it looked. My thighs shook with increased tension and my lunch creeped into my esophagus. What am I thinking? I belong on the ground not in the air! This is crazy!
If I can just get to the platform the rest will be easy, I thought. I made it to the podium. The instructor greeted me, hooked my cables in place and said, "Alright ma'am, you're ready to go." Whatever! My anxiety increased as I stood on the cereal-box-size platform and made the mistake of looking down.
It was at this point I asked him how many casualties there had been on this zip-line and when was the last time the line had been inspected. His assuring grin comforted my paranoid mind. His next statement struck me. "The first step is the hardest, but after that, you'll enjoy the ride."
Of course the first step is the hardest. There is no turning back after the fact. He was right. I took the first step from the podium and off I went gliding into the forest. The ride was exhilarating. I would have never known the joy of the zip had I not stepped forward, moved beyond my fears and participated in this exciting exploit.
This venture turned out to be an incredible reminder of the inner workings of my faith. Was my faith expressed when I gained the necessary knowledge during the instruction time? Was it when I cheered for the lady in front of me? Was it when I put on my helmet? How about when I put on my repelling gear. Or, was my faith displayed when I climbed up the tree? At what point did I exercise my faith? When did my commitment match what I told the women I was going to do?
Our faith is demonstrated by our actions. Knowledge is not enough because knowledge does not require commitment. When we believe in something it will change the way we live. We will act upon our beliefs. Beliefs determine behavior. Our lives will validate what we truly believe by how we live. Our actions are a result of our beliefs.
I displayed trust in this zip-line when I took the first step off the platform; when I allowed the weight of the cable to hold me and carry me through the woods. Had I not taken that first step all of my words would have been empty because there was no action to back them up.
Similarly, our faith without action is dead. Until we put into action what we know to be true and exercise our belief in God, we are still stuck in unbelief. There is often a chasm between what people know and confess and what their lives actually profess.
Having mere knowledge of God is useless, unless it transforms the way we believe which will influence the way we live. Knowledge and mental assent is not enough. James testifies to this in chapter 2 verse 19. He tells us, "You believe that there is one God, Good! Even the demons believe that and shudder."
Even Mark 3:11 & 5:7 tell us that evil spirits testify to who Christ is by declaring He is the Son of God. What irony. If we have the right doctrine and knowledge of God then our faith at least measures up to what the demons confess.
If there is no action as a result of what we believe, then our beliefs are not active, they are not life changing. As our key verse in James also shows, this kind of faith is dead. When our lives have been changed by the blood of Christ we will desire to obey His Word and His will for our lives.
We cannot genuinely have faith/believe and never have any evidence of it. If we have faith it will be evidenced by the way we live because faith transforms our life. We cannot wear the name Christian without living the life. If we genuinely believe it will demonstrate itself because this is the nature of faith. We must live what we believe because our faith is defined by what we demonstrate!
Want to go for a zip?
Read about the heroes of faith found Hebrews 11. Notice the verbs mentioned in each case and how the persons belief influenced what they did. After reading this, consider what Jesus might say to our generation? What would He say of your faith/belief?
Is there a gap between what you confess and what your life professes? What effect do your beliefs have on your actions?
Heart Changing Word:
John 14:15 (NIV) "If you love Me you will obey what I command."
Hebrews 11:6 "Without faith it is impossible to please God."
James 2:22,24 "You see that Abraham's faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone."
Copyright 2011 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserve.