What Good Is It?
I have a love/hate relationship with the book of James.
He just gets in my business, keeping the zingers coming with talk of being a self-proclaimed righteous person. In fact, in chapter 1 he tells us that true religion is to look after orphans and widows and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (1:27.) I usually only hear the first part of that verse quoted, since none of us wants to admit we have allowed ourselves to be polluted by the world. Besides, that whole conversation is up for opinion. Everyone has their own ideas and upbringing and “Mama said,” and discussions over what is and isn’t worldly get rowdy. In the church I grew up in, we had a whole list of unwritten rules for what being good looked like, sounded like, and acted like.
You too? Then you know what I mean.
When James was younger, and before his big brother, Jesus, began to travel the country preaching about the Kingdom of God, he may have been a lot like me: a good person. A good person who sometimes does something nice for others, if it is convenient or comfortable or noticed by others, because what others think of us is very important. He was probably like me in that he was devout in his belief in God, with the comfort and familiarity that comes from being raised in a household where you have to be sick and/or dying to not attend church at least three times a week; more if a revival is in town.
Which brings me to the point of this post: James abruptly asks the question “What good is it?” in Chapter 2: 14.
In today’s culture, there are many who say they believe in God, and many who are relying on their good works and humanitarian relief to earn His pleasure. God knows we need people to help and provide when disaster comes, including those who are compassionate and zealous to bring attention to social injustice without believing in Him. And both camps would argue that they are right, that their words and actions are better than someone else’s. But WHAT GOOD IS THAT?
The measure of our righteousness before God is in our FAITH & ACTION, believing what God says is the Truth. Many have been corrupted by the world’s enticement of believing IN God as all you need.
Even the demons believe IN God, but they shudder at His name.
So James breaks it down for us in the last portion of chapter 2 when he contrasts Abraham and Rahab. Abraham is the founding father of the faith. Everyone in the Jewish community understood and marveled at what great faith Abraham had in God, but James compares Abraham’s faith with that of Rahab, who was a prostitute. Uh, WHAT? Her? Oh, yes. Someone like her, or him, or anyone you or I deem as “not good enough,” anyone we typically do not include in our circles of friendships or treat as less than. I know. Ouch!
James probably heard Jesus say “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6) at some point without understanding that our relationship with God is not about us, but about trusting Him completely, even when we face seemingly impossible circumstances and challenges.
Both Abraham and Rahab surrendered to God in faith and trusted Him with their families, finances, and futures. They walked with God, allowing God to be the director of their lives. They did not ask God to come along on their journey. They walked out of their comfort and familiarity, free-falling into grace and faith, experiencing God in ways they could never dream. They put feet to their faith when God called them to action, and God Himself called them righteous.
WHAT GOOD IS IT?
Has God led you to “put feet to your faith” and do something beyond what you think is possible, or seems too difficult?
Please comment and let us know how God is growing your faith through His grace.
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