“…it becomes clear that we need to stop plotting the course and instead just land the plane on our plans to make a difference by getting to the “do” part of faith. That’s because love is never stationary. In the end, love doesn’t just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it. Simply put: love does.” Bob Goff, Love Does
If you’ve ever been in Sunday school then you’ll probably remember the song, “Silver and Gold Have I None.” Maybe, like me, you can even recall the hand claps and body motions that went with it! I bring this up because the sermon text from last Sunday came from Act 3: “Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” (Acts 3:6).
When I heard this Bible story on Sunday, however, I was reminded not of the Sunday school song but of verses with a similar sentiment: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 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? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:14-17). I wrote a previous blog post about how these verses have impacted me.
My mind wandered from the sermon as I started to look up this passage in my Bible. I re-read the verses I had remembered and then, from a section further on down the page, a different verse jumped out at me: “Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend” (James 2:21-23).
I thought, “A faith made complete. Who doesn’t want that? I want that!” So I scoured the surrounding verses looking for more clues as to what was meant by this verse. I found James 2:18, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds” and James 2:26, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
The rule-following “good girl” in me started to get a bit discouraged. I have no problem doing good deeds but it’s just that I don’t always do them for the right reasons. I need to do them out of love, not out of guilt. To do them out of compassion and not out of duty. To do them with a cheerful heart and not with a resentful spirit. To do them because I feel called and not because I feel trapped. How do I change this?
When I finally tuned back into the sermon, the pastor was already offering up applications from the text. One thing he said was that Peter used the miracle of healing a lame man not to further his own agenda but to point back to Jesus Christ. It all began to click for me.
Doing good deeds, the “doing” part of my faith, is not meant to be about me at all but is meant to be done out of love for Jesus and all He has done for me. My actions should always be to direct others toward Christ. It is when I start doing it to make myself look good that things start to fall apart.
So it seems that a “faith made complete” is one that serves to further God’s kingdom here on earth. A faith that helps to close the gap between that kingdom being both “here now” and “not yet.” A faith that uses both belief and deeds working together to more fully illuminate God’s love for the world. It means living out a faith in which “Love Does.“