Welcome! So glad you are here! Today’s reading is from an incessantly practical book of the bible – the letter from James! This James is thought to be the half brother of Jesus who was head of the Christian church in Jerusalem in first decades of the Christian movement. He speaks from experience!
James 2:14-19 “14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. 18 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.
James really grasped in a tangible way the vision Jesus has that His church would make an amazing, out of this world “love impact” on the world. To put it another way James is teaching his church the practical realities of putting God’s heart on display! How many times have I fit into the category of actions called out by James, “If one of you says to him, ‘Go I wish you well; keep warm and well fed’, but does nothing about his physical needs what good is it?” When James talks putting faith into action it is “acts of surprising, gracious love” that he seems to be referring to. It is as if he envisions Christ followers to have eyes to see, hearts to love and wills to act!
That is not what Jesus witnessed in Matthew 12 (this week’s message text) . “Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, 10 and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they (the religious leaders) asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”
There he was – a man who suffered under social and physical infirmity – who caught the eye of the religious leaders who used him as a “case in point” illustration in their battle with Jesus over how to best honor God on the Sabbath. In an effort be good – really good – the religious leaders were absolutely blind to do good – real loving good – in a man’s life that stood before them. Jesus saw the opportunity – He saw the man – He saw the need – He practically responded in a way that was possible for Him. He healed the man.
As I contemplate James’ call today I am counting on the grace of God for complete forgiveness over all my failures in “seeing, loving and acting” as Jesus would! I find myself being the man with the “shriveled hand” in need of grace, healing and restoration – in my case Jesus often finds me with a “shriveled heart”! BUT – He doesn’t leave me that way! Today I get to deliberately step into His gracious rest and then step out into my world to “see, love and act” like He is “seeing, loving and acting” through me!
Jesus, I come to you in this moment to rest in You, in your gracious love – to rest – to trust in Your peace over my life no matter what my circumstances. I surrender to Your reign over me – I receive all You have for me – and now I will step out in faith to act like it! I pray for eyes to see, a heart to love and a will to act” putting Your heart on display to the people of my life! Amen
What an exciting, awesome, inspiring way to approach today!
Thanks James – thanks Jesus!