What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
James 2:14-16 ESV
What do our works today say about our faith?
What areas of our life are growing to be more like Christ today?
What is more important to grow in:
– our practicing religion
– giving money to the church
– our knowledge of the law
– our position of honor amongst men
– our ability to rightly divide the Word
– our loving and serving others
Jesus demonstrates His distaste in Matthew 23 for hypocrisy and religious practice. Demonstrations of religious practice is not what he seeks. Religious sacrifices are not what He seeks. Surrendered lives and renewed hearts are the things that He seeks.
Jesus describes hirelings and false prophets and points out the dangers of these wolves in sheep’s clothing. He tells us to be open handed to the point and needy and to be a cheerleader giver to the local church. He gives instructions to the church, not about building great monuments and buildings, but about helping the needy, the poor, the widows, and the orphans. He doesn’t say make money and pay someone else to do your good works for you. No, we are all to participate in His Kingdom Work.
Jesus tells us to equip ourselves for sharing and defending the gospel. But He doesn’t say that we have to earn a degree in the law that is a curse to men, He tells us that we can know all things, but if we have not love, we have nothing. He tells every believer to go out and make disciples and baptize in His name. Yes, it is for the elect, but the elect are not just clergy, the elect are the children of God. Do not listen to wolves and hirelings who want their payment in silver coins and tell you that the work of sharing the gospel is not for you, but yours is to give money. They are liars.
Jesus tells us to be first we must be last. He says that those who are exalted amongst men have received their reward already. So our goal is not that we be exalted, but that He be given all the praise. If we are striving for honor and glory and position for ourselves, that is not honoring God, that is honoring self.
Our ability to rightly divide the Word of God, our ability to hear and recognize the voice of the Good Shepherd, our ability to judge between the tricks of the enemy are important to us in our own walk more than they are in our correcting the walks of others. Our example speaks much lower than words. If we know how to rightly divide the Word of God in our speech, but not in our lives – if we believe that the darkness that we walk in is light, how deep is that darkness?
But when we walk in the Holy Spirit of Love, when we see past the veil of the law, when we have the light within to examine with spiritual eyes, we know that Love, True Godly Love, fulfills the law. All of the law and all of the words of the prophets hang on loving God and loving others. When we walk in this spirit, the law is fulfilled. And walking is not just talking, but it is active and doing. It is serving the hungry in the streets, it is visiting the lost in prison, it is visiting the afflicted in the hospital, it is sharing this gospel with the lost, it is showing compassion to the strangers, it is helping those who have no way of repaying us. It is giving of ourselves until it hurts.
Christ’s example was that He traveled from town to town sharing the gospel even to people who hated Him and tried to kill Him, and then He died on a cross for you and for me, so that He could be raised to life, as the first of many songs and daughters of God to be raised to life. He told His followers, pick up your cross and follow me – and they did it, walking into persecution and death for the gospel message just like their teacher. Loving and serving all along the way.
So are we committed, friends?
Are we serving daily?
Are we helping those in need? Or satisfied with our own wants?
Do we have compassion for those in need?
Or are we focused on ourselves?
Let’s open our eyes today and see the ways we can be more compassionate to those in need.
Walk it out, Christ followers.