James 2:14-20 (MSG)
Faith in Action
14-17 Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?
18 I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”
Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.
19-20 Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?
I’ve had a number of circumstances in my life where faith with works worked a miracle. Just about a year ago my husband and I were facing one of the worst times in our lives. We were in jeopardy of losing our home. We made the decision to finance our sons’ college education by giving up our vehicle with the hope that it would be enough to make ends meet. It wasn’t and we were juggling each month as to which financial obligation could be met because the reality was we were coming up short every month. Two working adults with a kid in a college and one in high school and the struggle was unbelievable. We kept the faith but we added some things to it.
1 Peter 1: 5-9 (NKJV) says , “5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.” God’s word is truth and if you trust in it your life will never be the same or ordinary. My husband and I stood upon God’s word and we worked our faith. Not only did we “declare” that we would not lose our home, but we made calls (WORK), we researched modification options (WORK), we prayed together (WORK), we fasted together (WORK), we went to church consistently (WORK) despite the hardship we were enduring, we attended a prophetic workshop (WORK) looking for a Word from the Lord and coming out with greater insight as to the nature of the circumstance and how to wage war more effectively (WORK). We never gave up on our belief that the Lord gave us our home and He wasn’t allowing it to be taken from us. We had to endure that trial like good soldiers so that we would know how to fight the good fight of faith as a couple. I can’t tell you the number of times we had to hear from our lender that we didn’t qualify for a program or time was winding up and if our financial situation hadn’t changed for the better or worse then we were losing our home. To receive newspaper clippings in the mail with our home listed for sale and the sale date while we were still living in it and fighting for it was almost too much to bear. Fear would grip us at times to shake our faith, but we pulled those thoughts down and we kept fighting (WORK).
Five months after the prophetic conference, constant prayer, fasting, studying of the word, fellowship with the saints, counsel from our pastors, and multiple phone calls to the lender there was a breaking in the spiritual realm that worked in our favor. Someway, somehow the lender made a mistake in processing something and by law they had to restart our process for modification of our loan. This took our home out of foreclosure and off the market. We had to fill out another round of paperwork and provide multiple pay stubs knowing nothing had changed in our financial circumstance, but we walked by faith and filled out every piece of paper. While we were walking, the Lord opened the door for my husband to receive an offer for a new job paying him almost 3 times more a year in salary than he was currently making. When he accepted the offer we didn’t have a pay stub (because he hadn’t officially started work) to offer the lending company but they accepted his offer letter as a stub and proceeded with processing a modification for us. We were approved for the modification and made it through the 3 month trial period and June 1, 2016 will be our first mortgage payment that is less than the mortgage we were paying before the storm. June 1, 2016 will also be the last tuition payment for our son who is graduating from college with his degree in Culinary Arts.
We worked our faith and it wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. We had to add to our faith some virtue (our character had to be in place thanks to our yielding to God’s word). To virtue we added knowledge (we stayed on the phone and computer researching ways to save our home). Ignorance will never be an option in the mind of any believer and especially not us. To knowledge we added self-control (we couldn’t fly off the handle at each other or the lending company). Nor could we allow ourselves to lash out at our children or anyone else in our path because of the stress of the circumstance. To self-control we added perseverance (this was not a quick fix). There was no overnight success story here, we waited this out even declining help from a lawyer who worked a great deal for another couple who was experiencing the same situation. The spirit of the Lord told us “NO” to using this man’s service and we obeyed. This work involved the Lord, my husband and me. To perseverance we added godliness. We conformed to the divine purpose of God. He wanted no one in this but us and we submitted to His authority. To godliness we added brotherly kindness with our admiration and respect for not only each other but for every individual we spoke with at the lending company. Not all were kind or wanted to see us come out of this, but we maintained brotherly kindness. Obeying God’s word never hinges on how someone behaves. To brotherly kindness we added love…a greater love for the Lord, a greater love for one another, and a love for this process. I can say without a doubt that I love the woman of God I am because of what I learned about God, my husband and myself during this process.
Faith must have works or it is dead. So for those who think you can just sit back and call things into existence I simply say to you, “That’s not how it works, that’s not how any of this works!”