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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

A Word from James: Action

by Marilynn Chadwick

Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2:17 NIV)

Action. Movement. Progress. Results in life matter. James challenges us to consider our results—the bottom line of our beliefs. What we believe impacts how we live.

But can our actions ever make us good enough for God? Does the salvation of our souls depend upon how well we live out the commandments? Must we work our way to heaven? Absolutely not!

Our focus today is on the word “action.” Let’s see what James has to say about the importance of our actions: “So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead)” (James 2:17 AMPC).

These words have sparked controversy for centuries. But the exhortation here is not so much about how we get “saved." Rather, what are the characteristics of saving faith? Quite simply, if faith has no corresponding actions, it's not real faith, James argues. Outward actions are merely evidence that our faith is alive and kicking.

Let me give you a practical illustration. I have two flower arrangements in my kitchen window. One is a beautiful vase of freshly cut flowers. Beautiful, but dead—those flowers can never reproduce. The other container holds a lovely potted bloom, its roots surrounded by soil, ready for planting. It will live and produce new blooms...again and again. This flower is alive. In a similar way, true faith, by its very nature, will produce actions that correspond to our beliefs. This kind of faith is alive.

If you have trusted Jesus for your salvation—accepting his death and resurrection as payment for your sins—you are "saved." Your righteousness is settled. You are made perfect in God's sight by grace through faith. Period.

Such faith is alive and will naturally produce actions. This does not mean you are perfect all at once or that you will never fail. But you are alive, forever a member of God's family. Once that question is settled, then ask yourself this question: Since I believe, what is God asking me to do as a "corresponding act of obedience?"

God’s Word is also “alive” (Hebrews 4:12). It tells us in practical terms how to live out our beliefs. The Holy Spirit gives us the power we need to follow the commands in Scripture.

Today, listen for your marching orders. What actions will you take after you read and meditate upon God's living Word?

Lord, help me have faith that is not only alive, but active. I come to your Word for life, power, and inspiration. Remind me to care for the poor and the poor in Spirit. Give me your eyes as I go about my day and nudge me when to give a kind word, a helping hand, a few dollars. Prick my heart with a fresh urgency. Break my heart for what breaks yours.

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