Building a Firm Foundation - Encouragement Café - September 29, 2017

Building A Firm Foundation
By Beth Mabe Gianopulos

Friday, September 29, 2017

 ”But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”  Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”  James 2:18-19 NIV

This summer, I traveled to Valdosta, Georgia with my husband, two of my kids, and our church youth group to volunteer with Group Mission Trips.  We spent a week repairing homes in the community. We scraped paint, painted homes, and built porches.

The work was far from easy.  It was unbearably hot and humid, and there were gnats everywhere. Many of the kids had never built a porch or painted the outside of a home before.  They worked in groups with other teenagers from all over the country.  

We slept on air mattresses in classrooms at a middle school, and we ate cafeteria food for a week.  We not only gave up a week of our summer, but we paid for the experience of work camp. 

Many people wonder, why would you travel to a city where you don’t know anyone and work in the heat for strangers?  Our family chooses to do this work because we have chosen to show our faith by our deeds. 

In James 2:18, Christians are cautioned that you cannot have faith without deeds, and we are instructed to show others our faith by our deeds. 

Living out your faith through your actions is not easy.  It often requires that you sleep in a strange place, talk to strangers, and pray with people that you do not know.  Living out our faith also requires that we sacrifice. 

Sometimes we must sacrifice our comfort, our time, our finances, and our security. 

This summer, our family learned some valuable lessons about living out our faith through our deeds.  When the week ended, houses that looked worn and tired were transformed with a fresh coat of paint. 

However, the primary work that occurred was not physical. 

Many of the people that lived in the homes where we worked were lonely.  They were widowed, elderly, or disabled.  Many of the residents spent hours of their day alone.  They were financially insecure and despite the pride they took in their homes, they could not afford to make the necessary repairs.

When volunteers from all over the country showed up full of joy and hope, the joy was contagious.  The hope was infectious. 

Before we knew what was happening, homeowners were spending the entire day in the blistering sun just so that they could spend time with the people that were working on their home. 

When we reflected on the week, we could easily see that some of us built a porch.  We could see that others painted a home.  We also realized that eventually the paint would fade and the porch would crumble. 

However, we built something much stronger that will stand the test of time. When we displayed our faith through our actions, we built a foundation of love and hope.  With every stroke of a paintbrush, a teenager actively displayed God’s love. 

With each hole that a volunteer dug, they buried despair and planted hope. With each porch that was repaired, the group slowly repaired a broken heart.

By showing our faith through our deeds, the seeds of love and hope were planted and continue to grow.  When everything else fades away, the love and hope that took root will endure.   

Jesus, show me how I can live my faith through my deeds.  Open my eyes so that I may see the needs of others, and give me the courage to act in faith.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

© 2017 by Beth Mabe Gianopulos.  All rights reserved.

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Originally published Friday, 29 September 2017.