Faith and Works

Today I read James 1-5 and the next chapter in Integrity. Reading the whole book of James, there are many things floating through my mind right now. One of the themes that stood out loud and clear was the idea of having integrity in your faith, that your actions should match what you claim your faith to be. Over and over again, James makes it clear that our faith cannot just be a pronouncement or right belief. Rather our faith must be displayed or followed or shown in and through our good works. I know there are many who rightly emphasize grace in the process of salvation. It is true there is nothing that we can do to earn salvation or God’s favor. It is truly by his grace, a grace I don’t deserve, that he saved me and called me to himself. I was not more loveable than others, or more valuable. It was purely an act of love and grace.

That being said, far too many feel like grace gives them license to be whoever they want to be just so long as they have faith and the right doctrine. As a result we see so many Christians who wear the label and talk a good fight, but when it comes to examining their lives, they look no different than those in the world who have no faith. This comes to mind right now when I think of the religious police we have on the internet who have a very narrow determination of who is saved and who is not and spend their lives harshly criticizing anyone who does not use the right words or says things from quotes that seem off. These same people who profess to have it all together and have “true” faith show some of the most discourteous behavior and attack people who are fellow believers whom they deem are not “true” believers. They label, insult, and look down on these people claiming they are false teachers while they themselves are displaying behavior that does not fit their profession of faith.

As I take all of this in, I want to make sure I am always dealing with reality in my own life. Where am I really at? How am I fooling myself? Where are my actions or thoughts not in line with the faith I profess? How do I act like those who are the judge and jury of others? Can I truly get into another person’s shoes and understand them? These are big questions because it is so easy for me to want to reason away people who don't agree with me as if I have all the answers and I am always right. I have to be very careful that I don't let pride slip in the back door under the guise of input or feedback or ideas. I need to humble myself and continue to realize it is by grace that I stand today and that grace should be reflected in how I act if I truly believe in Christ and have faith that he will take care of things in this world.

Lord, help me to be a man of integrity whose actions line up with the faith I profess. May people not only hear the gospel from me but may they see it in how I act. Help my life to be as big of a witness as my words. Amen.
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