What to do when your faith is useless

Originally published Sunday, 06 March 2016.

Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? James 2:14-17 (MSG)

I don't weed a lot. At all, really. 

In fact, for a year I have walked past a variety of weeds and grasses pushing their way through our paving and thought, Why doesn't someone pull that grass up?

I'm not sure if I was waiting for a grass fairy to come along and magically clear the paving of weeds but either way I have done nothing about it. For almost 12 whole months.

On Saturday as I picked my way through the weeds I thought, ‘Why doesn’t someone pull that grass up?’ Then I thought, ‘Why don’t I just do it quickly!’

As I gripped grass and tugged to free the roots I thought about how I often do exactly the same thing in my relationship with God. Wait for things to magically change without taking any steps to change myself or the situation.

I remember reading a blog a few years ago by Casey Graham that had a profound effect on me. This paragraph from the blog summarizes the post well: 

You are currently doing what you “want” to do. 

If you say, “I’m tired of being broke”, but you aren’t reading online articles about wealth, you truly don’t want to be financially free.  If you say, “I want a new job”, but you aren’t asking people every week about openings & searching online for companies hiring, you truly don’t want another job. If you say, “I want to be a rock star”, but you aren’t currently playing shows anywhere, you don’t truly want to be a rock star.

Everyone is currently doing what they really want to do.

As I pulled grass, I thought about my relationship with God, and Casey Graham’s blog post, and the verse in the bible says, “Without action, faith is useless.” (<— Tweet this)

I wondered if that verse was maybe a bit like me and weeding. Without actions, thinking about weeding is useless. And that doing things rather than just thinking them doesn’t only apply to weeding, but to our whole lives.

How often do I just pray and expect God to change something? 

How often do I pray and act? 

And if I only rely on prayer, without action, do I really want what I’m praying about to change?

Maybe God doesn't just want me to pray and ask him to do a work in me, or situations, but that maybe he also wants me to do something, or work on myself, or do something for someone else.

I know this is probably tough to read. It's tough to write. And I'm preaching to myself maybe more than you because I need to hear this right now. 

I need to be reminded that faith is not static, it is not one way, it is not dead. 

Faith is dynamic and alive; faith is not words but actions. 

And I know this isn't simple. I pray all the time for Xylon to remain cancer free. I've been praying more lately as Xylon goes for a check up in the next few weeks. We've been praying AND we've changed our lifestyles. We watch the food we put into our bodies. 

We do what we can in the physical, while we cry out for God to meet us in the spiritual. (<— Tweet this)

There are so many other examples though where I only pray and I don’t act. I pray for poverty to end but I can’t tell you one thing I did in the last week that would make a difference. I pray for friends in difficult relationships but I’m too scared to wade into the messy middle and offer them myself.

I haven’t really got this faith in action thing figured out. I probably won’t ever have it sorted. 

To be honest, I'm not sure how I got from weeding grass to challenging myself to examine whether I’m living an active, vibrant faith. But I think maybe God had something to do with stopping me from walking by the weeds this weekend. And that there was more that needed to be uprooted in my heart than needed to be pulled out the pavement. 

Ponder: How do you actions to your faith? I’d love you to leave a comment. 

Prayer: Lord, open my eyes to the places where I need to stop talking about you and start acting like you. Amen (<— Tweet this)

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- This was orginally published on my site in December 2015. To read more posts like this go to ilovedevotionals.com