James: Day 4

Faith Made Complete

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Today's Text: James 2:14-26, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Romans 3:23-26, Ephesians 2:8-10

Scripture Reading: James 2:14-26, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Romans 3:23-26, Ephesians 2:8-10

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

I love that Christian freedom is based on this principle: free, radical grace exists for the undeserving through Jesus. There’s nothing we can do to receive it; there’s nothing we can do to reverse it. Incredible, wonderful, scandalous grace.

That’s why reading James’ words can feel confusing. Is he contradicting grace, saying we’re justified by our works—that without those good works, our faith is as good as dead?

I’ve spent a lot of time grappling with these passages, asking God to open my eyes to what He was saying through these two disciples. On the surface, it seems like they are contradicting one another. Then He reminded me of a breakfast I shared with a friend recently.

I’ve known this friend since I was ten years old. She’s gorgeous, extremely athletic, and was always popular in school. Over the twenty years we’ve known each other, we’ve stayed loosely in touch. Over coffee and eggs, she shared the circumstances of her life—mostly that it hadn’t turned out like she’d planned.

As we talked, I felt God pressing me to speak. It felt strange, so I hesitated, afraid of sounding cheesy or trite. I knew things between us could get awkward. But then I didn’t really feel like I had a choice. So I said it:

“I don’t know why, but I really feel like God wants me to tell you that He loves you.”

I cringed after saying it, wondering if I’d gone too far. But in that moment, something softened. Tears fell down her cheeks. Rather than turning awkward, the entire moment felt sacred.

Hebrews chapter 11 recounts the spiritual giants whose faith in God was counted as righteousness. But that faith wasn’t void of action. A quick perusal of the list and you’ll see it over and over again: verbs.

By faith Abel offered.
By faith Noah built.
By faith Abraham obeyed.

Our God is a God of action. So if you have faith in Him, get ready to move.

This is the beauty of Christianity: our faith in Jesus saves us, and it also frees us from striving to be enough, trying to earn approval, stature, or recognition through what we do. I can do good works without having to worry about measuring the outcome. Faith in Jesus’ final, finished work gives me the security to do good without worrying that I’m doing enough.

This is where it gets crazy. My friend called me a few weeks later to tell me something had radically changed in her heart. From that moment we shared at the breakfast table, she’d felt God in hot pursuit of her. Since then, she’s been spending every morning in His Word, falling in love with Him again.

Is it possible God can use us like that? Is it possible that I’d just experienced a good work He’d prepared for me in advance, one He’d planned for me to do all along? After all, the work isn’t really mine. I’m just His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). I’m an instrument in His hands, playing an essential part in His eternal symphony.

What a gift.

To be saved by grace.
To be invited into God’s work.
To see that, in the end, it’s all His.

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Claire Gibson is a freelance writer and editor whose work has been featured both locally and nationally in publications including The Washington Post, and Entrepreneur Magazine. An Army kid who grew up at West Point, New York, Claire is currently growing roots in Nashville, Tennessee. She loves her husband, Patrick, and their dog, Winnie.

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  • I used to be afraid to invite people to church or to small group with me. I was always afraid that they would think I’m some crazy religious nut. I used to keep my faith a total secret.

    Then I realized that jesus didn’t just die on the cross for me to be a Christian on sundays and with other Christians.

    I still struggle with it today in a way. The other day someone asked me what my favorite song was… And i had this internal battle of should I say blah blah worship song and sound like a Christian weirdo? Or should I just say a Beyoncé song to sound normal??

    And now I think about that encounter. Could that single question have developed into a larger conversation about worship music and Jesus and then developing a relationship with Jesus? And then eventually leading that person to Christ?

    Makes me think of how many people I could have already lead to Christ if I would just work harder and SHOW my faith instead of just holding it inside.

  • Mish Pope

    I love this. Go do! And you are saved. You are free form the external bondage of perfection and box ticking the world presses into us.

  • I love what you said “So if you have faith in Him, get ready to move!”

  • The book of James is the perfect salve for a broken heart and relationship lost. ♥️

    • Heather

      I love this. I was just telling my husband I am loving the book of James and he asked me why and I said it just felt very applicable to some things I’m going through right now (healing my relationship with the Lord) and your comment perfectly summed it up ❤️

  • Praise the Lord! God is using this James study to get me back on track with my morning time with Him. I have learned much. Most of all I have learned that my faith has to be fed, filled up, each morning because if not then my works are dead in the fact that they are not works that glorify Him. I recently hit a dry patch and wasn’t choosing God early each day and that compromise turned into a couple weeks of no bible in the morning. Which turned into me reacting badly in a situation that should have shown God’s mercy and love. So from that bad scenario I was called back to God’s word and led into this study, which I started before the dry patch and lo and behold God called me back to it!
    Thank you for hearing His voice and telling your friend He loves her, it’s true!!
    I pray we all keep that at the front of our minds and I pray we don’t compromise time reading the Bible every day, we aren’t really too busy. We are on God’s timetable after all!
    Saved by grace, imagine that.

  • These verses from James are so encouraging! I loved the phrase the commentator used – if you have faith, get ready to move! When I was in college, I really felt God calling me to move to a new a big city to teach elementary school. Many people ask why I choose to teach in urban education. The work is hard, I see and experience first hand the trauma that comes from the brokenness in our world in young children every day. Only Jesus can truly help the hurt, and I am thankful for the opportunities I have to share my faith by these works, whether it is holding a crying child, giving a family a ride home, or helping with a food and clothing drive. These very practical works breath life and love into communities that need it most. I have been debating this summer if it is time for me to move to another -easier- educational setting, but these verses have really encouraged me to continue sharing His love, grace, and mercy with those who need it most, and to be out of my comfort zone and showing others my faith daily! Thank you for sharing!

  • Grace wins every time. This is something that has permanently been written on my heart. It is through Grace that we learn of Gods love for us and that as long as we care enough to hear his words, we can be saved from the everyday defeat we may feel. The pressures of our worlds can become too much sometimes and it’s easy to fall into the darkness. But it is the faith and grace we feel when we let god in that truly sets us free.

    Cheers to us all for finding love in God and allowing him to use us as vessels to help pave those who need to be reminded that they are truly loved and appreciated.

    Grace reminds us to be humble and love unconditionally without boarders or preconditions.

  • A beautiful story, reminds me that things like going to coffee with a friend, God will still use me to do good for this world. Beautifully written.

  • Danielle Bongiorno

    Thank you so much Claire. I loved this word. And this phrase is something I’m going to keep reflecting on “Faith in Jesus’ final, finished work gives me the security to do good without worrying if I’m doing enough.” Also, may I ask how you got started in your writing career? Thanks again! -Danielle

  • Laura Beth

    “Faith in Jesus’ final finished work gives me the security to do good without worrying that I’m doing enough”. Thank you for this. As someone feeling a bit burned out during a hard season of ministry, I needed to be reminded not only why I strive for good works, but that the outcome is not something I need to worry about. I pray that I can daily loosen my white-knuckles grip on life and walk by faith!

  • I love the book of James. I love how personal it feels. I’m hoping that this study will reignite that need for the word and God in my life. Sometimes it’s hard because I spend so much time focusing on the people in my life and being with them and serving them, that it’s hard to remember that even if God is not a physical presence, my relationship with Him is actually the most important one of all.

  • I love this as I’ve struggled with often feeling like I need to do more, be more, feeling like God is never answering prayers, when really the gift has already been given, I need only to trust and act in my faithfulness that He has already prepared works for me and that He will work through me in these moments for righteousness sake and through HIM I get to be blessed with sharing His divine love in such a loveless world!

  • I love this explanation and the excellent use of cross references! It is so helpful and clarifying to understand faith and works this way!

  • Kasey Summers

    Love love love!!

  • Amanda Montgomery

    I understand that salvation is not from my works, it’s from my faith. And that once I have salvation through faith, it’s works that show my faith. I struggle to understand the fine line between “faith without works is dead” and the fact that I no longer have to strive to prove myself or anything because Jesus already did the work to prove all things.

    • Kasey Summers

      I’ve struggled with this as well. Where I’ve landed is that if I have genuine faith… which is what alone saves and is a gift in itself…. then works (more so I like to call it the fruit) naturally will flow from a new heart. I hope that helps. I still struggle to comprehend it!

      • Anna

        The way I see it is that true, bold faith is letting go of worldly inhibitions and following God’s call to DO. Then it’s not how well you’ve done, but about fully following and trusting God, which is faith! Hope that helps!

      • Jenna

        Kasey, I think that is a good beginners game point but I do think sometimes then the enemy will begin to have you question the genuineness or your faith.
        I find understanding in faith is believing God to be enough to save me, keep me, and lead me. Because if that I’ll do whatever he asks me.
        (According to Hebrews) Faith is believing in things hoped for the evidence of things not seen. And the only thing that pleases God. So when we feel it’s not enough, we’re not enough, etc etc we believe by faith it is we are.

        We believe who he says he is and who he says we are.

        The time we feel most afraid to believe is the time we most need to.
        Hugs sister

    • Cathy

      Trust me the whole issue of grace was new to me up until 9 years ago (& I am nearly 60)…but the past 10 years as I’ve grown my faith & learned to love Him I look at it this way. My ❤️ For Him is so great that He pushes me to action, to ❤️ My neighbor. It is a natural outcome of faith in Christ! It is not a prerequisite. Faith is all He wants. If we follow , He blesses those actions. Hope that helps.

  • Katie Wiegert

    These are the words I needed to hear and truly sit in. God uses us in more ways than we think, from the smallest of deeds, to larger ones. My faith is being made stronger everyday through the work of God. I’m thankful for a loving God that gracefully saves us.

  • Thank you so much! This is so nourishing this morning, and exactly what I needed to hear. God is so faithful!

  • What a good word! I am a flawed perfectionist and upon reading these scriptures and content God showed me that I don’t have to be. God does not expect me to do things perfectly! There is so much freedom in Christ. He has don’t the work I just simply need to do what he asks of me. And boy does that feel good.

  • it is helpful for me to think of this lesson’s passage in james in light of the verse in day 2’s reading. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. DO WHAT IT SAYS.” (James 1:22) and what a blessing to know that in so doing, we are not enslaved, but rather walking in the way of the “perfect law that gives FREEDOM.” (James 1:25) What a great study this is! What a great God He is!

  • I have a hard time not knowing the outcome of my works. I think, Will this text lead her to come to church with me? Will my post make people see how “real” and “normal” a christian can be?? Will I be perceived as a religious nut for saying this to someone I barely know?? So the other day when I was at coffee with my new neighbor who is struggling to find a job, and she told me something I had texted her about uncertainty being God’s canvas for trust and deep growth had become her anthem (and her lock screen), I was blown away. See, I had texted her a photo with those words on a God-whim; one of those times I obeyed without knowing what the final outcome would be. And the outcome was that God had used my text to speak into her life. This is the Christian life: that we don’t know it all but we have deep communion with the One who knows us all, who sees into hearts and motives and calls us to lay aside our ambition and trust His intuition inside of us. I love how the author wrote “I can do good works without measuring the outcome.” God, may we all be quick to obey your calling us to good works without needing to know how it will all shake out! We trust you!

    • She Reads Truth

      Thank you for sharing, Kylee! So glad the Lord allowed you to see the fruit of your obedience.

      – Stormye

  • jessiechatchat

    This morning as I read those words–faith without works is dead–words that have spurred in me before a flurry of DOING, I felt something different. Thank you Claire. I think I felt Him whisper that without works, I may be saved but I would be living a hollow shell of a life. Not really alive. To be fully alive, in the richness of His Spirit, is to be channeling His glory by doing little parts of His kingdom work. When I obey, I am invigorated, filled with lifeblood and energy and life.

  • I just loved how our priest describes this grace / works thing one day. After a beautiful sermon meditating on the above, he spoke to the numbers people….Imagine a piece of paper. Our good works are represented as “zeros”, side-by-side; the grace of God by Christ blood is written to the left of those zeros. Without His grace and hand in our lives, it all means nothing, just a bunch of zeros, worth nothing since multiple zeros amounts to just zero. (Can you picture it? Basically, page could say “0000…” or, with Christ “10,000…”). Also, we can just enjoy His grace and not do the work with which He has entrusted us. There is so much Scripture to support that our lives need to reflect that we are His.

    Well done preaching to yourself, Nads…Now go do it!!!

    • Nads

      Correction: Also, we CAN’T just enjoy His grace and not do the work with which He has entrusted us.

      • Ana

        That’s such a good example. Thank you! I’m going to write it down so I don’t forget it.

  • Sarah Joy

    Often my willingness to step into good works comes with favoritism (see Day 3) – do I enjoy this person or situation? Will I feel too uncomfortable or (worse) is this person worth the uncomfortablity? My other trip up is often I have my eyes and heart more attuned to the people outside my home than my husband and children. Aren’t they in need of good works flowing from the grace I’ve received? God forgive me!

    Today I desire to ask the Spirit to reveal how I’ve been forgiven and made to do good works. He has placed those good works in front of me. Will I do them? Freely, lavishly and unselfishly? God help me to be released to walk in Your ways.

  • This message was a beautiful reminder, especially that the “work” I have to do is because I am “His workmanship”, love that.
    I always read Paul’s take on work in Ephesians with regards to earning my salvation, which no one can do.
    But James implores us to move and follow God, the author of salvation. Because, having been saved how can we begin to repay him and show our love and gratitude?

  • This concept of works and faith has been a tough one for me to grasp over the years. As someone who grew up in a very religious (but not always genuine) place, I prioritized works over a relationship with Christ. For years I thought I was earning my salvation and cultivating my own goodness, but I always felt like a failure. I could never do enough or be good enough and that frustrated me. So thankful that God revealed the truth to me through His word and the Holy Spirit these last few years. He has taught me so much about true faith and how our good works are essentially the fruit of His Holy Spirit working in and through us.

    A year ago, He laid a loved one on my heart who had struggled with some of the same misconceptions of faith that I had and was also going through a rough time. I began to pray specifically for this person and asked God for opportunities to plant seeds and minister. He gave them to me, along with the boldness to share about the transformation that was occurring in my heart and life. Last summer, a few months after I began praying for this dear loved one, God did something amazing.

    During a visit, I ended up not being able to return home as soon as I expected due to inclement weather. I was initially frustrated because I felt tired and just wanted to go home. But God gave me the opportunity to speak words of encouragement again. I had offered to pray for him at the end of the conversation and before I jumped into the prayer, I felt like God was telling me to say, “Is there anything you want me to pray for?” So I did. And as soon as I said those words I felt stupid because I had prayed with him a couple times before and expected the answer, “the same things you always pray for.” But this time, the answer was different. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing – a request to pray for Jesus to come into his heart and change his life! I reached for a Christian book that I had started earlier that day. At the end of chapter one was a prayer of salvation, just in case someone reading it was not yet saved. I showed him the prayer and pointed out that it was written in the first person – that he had to be the one to say those words, but that I could lead him through it. And I did. After that, I prayed for him and shared some verses about being a new creation in Christ. I had bookmarked them on the She Reads Truth app after seeing them in the same chapter of that book, not knowing at the time that I would use them just a few hours later!

    I went to bed that night so in awe of my God and how He brought about this answer to prayer, this good work that He prepared in advance for me to do. He is still using me in the life of this dear loved one and teaching me to trust and obey. If you’ve managed to read all of this, please pray for continued spiritual growth and a closer relationship with the Lord for this loved one of mine.

    • Kate

      Beautiful testament of God’s love. Thank you for sharing :)

    • Lexi

      Love this so much. Thank you for sharing. ❤️❤️❤️

    • She Reads Truth

      What an incredible thing to be a part of, Kristi! Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful experience with you all. Praising God for the salvation of your family member!

      – Stormye

  • This study has led me to lots of feelings of conviction, but also an overwhelming sense of love and grace in the Lord’s presence. It’s like I’m falling in love with my relationship with Christ all over again. Everything from the warm and fuzzies to the complete awe of been so cared for and so loved that God wants to move in our lives for the betterment of us. Our good works are microscopic on the scale of sacrifices God has made for us to be able to be living here today doing them, looking towards a forever happy ever after. In my times of feeling like I’m not doing enough, I immediately remind myself that I won’t always know God’s timing. I ask him to give me discipline to be able to hear what He is calling me to do but also not be anxious in trying to do things on my own time or within my own power. I believe God can bless good works in many forms, especially when we take the time to trust that He will lead us in the appropriate direction in time. So much love for my SRT sisters today. Praying peace over all of you!

    • She Reads Truth

      Thank you so much for sharing this, Jet. What a beautiful thing to fall in love with Christ again and again. Praising the Lord for this!

      – Stormye

  • I love reading these comments and seeing that I am not alone in the confusion and guilt that sometimes comes with reading James! When reading through James I feel guilt because I feel as if I’m not doing enough. I try to remember that God loves me where I am in my spiritual journey but I still feel obligated to do more, not out of faith. Don’t get me wrong, there have been plenty of times where I acted on things that I felt the Lord led me to do or wanted me to do, like how Claire felt the need to tell her friend that God loves her. I know being led by the Lord to say something like that or physically do a good work for someone is considered “faith works” but I feel guilt for not being more involved in my church or going on mission trips. Everyone is led by the Lord in different ways but I feel like a lazy Christian sometimes, if that makes any sense.

    • Emily B.

      It makes perfect sense! I feel the same way at times, wondering if I need to be doing “bigger” things for the Lord. But He’s present in all of it, and like you said, we just need to keep being led by Him.

    • DebbieinAZ

      You are only a lazy Christian if you know that God is leading you to do something and you dont do it. That’s shear disobedience. If God is not calling you to the mission field than that is not you being lazy. God has His own special design and purpose for your life. You cant compare yourself to other people. Pray for God to show you His purpose each day and trust that He will. Then go about your day, week, year… without guilt. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) Hope that helps. Be blessed sister in Christ.

    • DebbieinAZ

      Hi Destiny, I believe you are only a lazy Christian if you know that God is leading you to do something and you dont do it. That’s shear disobedience. If God is not calling you to the mission field than that is not you being lazy. God has His own special design and purpose for your life. You cant compare yourself to other people. Pray for God to show you His purpose each day and trust that He will. Then go about your day, week, year… without guilt. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1) Hope that helps. Be blessed sister in Christ.

  • Claire, I’m in tears. Thank you for the good word. Love and prayers to you SRT sisters today.

  • Wildflower

    I feel like I grasp this on an intellectual level, but my heart doesn’t totally get it yet if that makes sense. James’s words immediately send me into feelings of guilt and anxiety.. trying to think of good things I can do to make God happy. But I know that actions motivated by guilt and anxiety aren’t what he is looking for. I’m praying that God helps me to really grasp this in my heart! Living so long with anxiety and depression that was always centered on my faith has left me with a lot of misconceptions about the lord. Please pray that he breaks those chains of fear and guilt for me, and I pray that he does the same for any of you who are also struggling.

  • PronetoWander

    10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. I love this!

  • It makes most sense to me when I think of faith as the inspiration for works. My faith inspires my works, most definitely and especially when I am called to love difficult people and in difficult situations. Without my faith, I can imagine it would be easy to rationalize not reaching out because often it is hard and it costs me something. When faith inspires my works, my focus is off “me” and what I can lose or gain by my works. Instead, my focus is on God and on others.

  • To what kinds of works is James referring? Is he talking about giving to the poor through various charities and acts of benevolence? Perhaps he is talking about participating in clothing and food distributions? Maybe so. But maybe he is talking about the works that cause us to “step out on a limb” and take a “leap” not knowing what the outcome might be. Just as this author spoke with trepidation the words that she believed God to be prompting, perhaps the works of faith of which James speaks are those that require faith because we are unsure of the result or not even sure if God is doing the prompting. In a sense, we must use faith in order to act, whether by word or deed.

  • We have been saved from this evil present age, like Paul states in Galatians 1, to no longer choose sin and idolatry, which results in death, but to be renewed in our minds and conformed to the image of Christ in order to bring glory to him and the Father. Through the Spirit and through conscious choosing to put on the new self (Ephesians 4:24), meaning it will take hard work and it won’t come automatically just because we “put our trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior”, we get to be the restored creation here and now, on earth, anticipating the complete restoration of creation and the joining of heaven and earth by worshipping God and doing the good works God planned for us ahead of time. We get to declare through words and actions that he has already inaugurated his Kingdom and that He alone is Lord. James, as the leader of the very Jewish Jerusalem, had probably rethought Jewish (and maybe even pagan) notions of works and virtue in the light of his brother’s crucifixion and what that meant for humanity in space and time from then on. I don’t think he meant that grace now makes works obsolete, the idea that we don’t have to change in this lifetime but only hold fast to salvation. I think he had grasped that Jesus’s defeat of the evil powers holding death and sin over our heads was the means through which we now could, in fact, be fully human and do the good works promised for us. Faith is knowing that God, through Jesus, has been faithful to his covenant and is making all things new to his praise and glory. Freedom from sin is ours not only as a gift but also as a mandate: it is so that we can worship and reign with Christ.

  • My husband and I were just talking about this subject, yet neither of us were able to clearly put into words what we knew to be truth. But here it is! We are young (23 and 21) youth pastors in our first year of marriage, working full time jobs, and have a baby on the way. Life has just been stressful for this entire year, and we haven’t received much support from our church. We were talking about how often we’ve seen people in our own church miss this part of the equation, assuming that others will do the work that Christ has set out for us to do. But God WANTS to bring us into the equation. He can do it without us because He’s God, but He wants us involved. This gives me a renewed vigor to keep doing what we’re doing. Keep doing the things God has for us, even when it’s really really hard and realizing that this hard stuff is just a sign of our obedience to Him.

    • Gema

      Amen! Keep pressing on sister! I was once in the same situation you are in right now. I was pregnant and my husband and I were in charge of the youth ministry along with the dance ministry. Unfortunately due to my pregnancy and life itself I was feeling overwhelmed and hoped someone would step in and help with these ministries, unfortunately my church was very much like yours. During this time God reminded me that no matter how difficult it seemed our works are important, not only as a proof of our faith but also because is the only way others can come to Christ. Sister please remember our works is what leads others to Christ, don’t quit and keep doing the good work.

    • Emily B.

      I can relate to your season of busyness, as I’m still in my first year of marriage, too (although not quite as young as you). I’m sorry that you haven’t received a lot of support from your church, but I’m so glad your heart has been encouraged by the Word and devotion today! I pray God would keep encouraging you and blessing you as you prepare for your little one’s arrival. :)

  • We just talked about this passage last night in my Bible study as we’re studying Ephesians and how it ties into Ephesians 2. One of the things we discussed was how much Paul emphasizes in Ephesians that this is all God’s doing, not ours! But how easy is it for us to try to do it all on our own? And yet, God has prepared good works for us to do, opportunities for us to participate in His plans! The person who walks into our office in need of help, the person we start talking to in an elevator, the person who keeps asking us more and more questions about our faith. But how often do we avoid eye contact with a stranger, give a trite response to someone asking for help, get annoyed with people’s questions because they’re getting in the way of our plans for today? So then, the question becomes: do we see God’s plans as opportunities or interruptions to our own plans? Praying today that we would give up our own plans and keep our eyes and ears open to what God has planned for our day! Praying that each of us would experience an opportunity to be a part of God’s good works He already has planned for us today!

  • Love, love, love this!

  • This was so good. I’ve been called to be still about a current situation and felt as if I was doing nothing at all to help the situation. I felt passive. Then Claire referred to Hebrews 11, and posted: “By faith, Abraham obeyed.” God spoke up and said- “Obedience is an action. You feel as if you are doing nothing, but by making the choice to obey me, that is taking action. And I honor that.”

    God is so good. Even though we feel as if we are doing nothing and should be doing something, God is at work. By obeying him, we are doing the biggest action of all, showing him our love and trust for him. <3

    • Jessi

      Alexix, thank you for posting. I have been in waiting mode for what seems like a very long time and I am getting tired of waiting, You reminded me that the Lord put me here for His purposes. Thank you for reminding me that I am obeying His word.

  • I’m so glad “Our God is a God of action.” His action brought us salvation, grace , Holy Spirit and ever abiding love.

  • How beautiful. I love that you shared the step of faith you took. I can only imagine how much you blessed her.

    http://www.in-due-time.com

  • One of the best studies!!!

  • Just. Wow.

  • The idea of faith without works being dead was difficult for me to grasp for a long time. I’m very introverted, and it made me feel so much pressure to witness to others and make sure I was doing enough. My current pastor explained this verse in a totally new way (new to me), and it has changed my life. When he discusses this verse, he always talks about the notion of producing fruit and the fruits of the Spirit. A tree does not have to grunt and strive and sweat in order to produce fruit – it just does. It’s roots grow deep and fruit and flowers burst forth just because the tree is alive. Jesus is the “author and finisher of our faith” and the vinedresser. He give us life. When we look to Him, the fruit happens naturally BECAUSE of Him. Not because of anything we do. He provides us with every word and every opportunity. We do not have to earn our salvation through doing good works. He moves through us and completes all the good work for us when we simply turn our eyes to Him.

    • Laura

      Melissa – this is wonderful. I love how your pastor words this. I understand your struggles because my brother and dad are also very quiet and introverted people, but I think they are great examples of how their attitudes still reflect Christ without having to verbally or directly witness to others. My dad is the most selfless individual I know, and is very good at working for others without ever calling attention to himself. It is his quiet demeanor that I believe makes him a better steward of the Gospel because his actions reflect his motive to love others and show them Christ, rather than bringing the focus on him. I know this is a long story, but do not lose heart because of your quiet and introverted personality. You can serve Christ and witness to others through your actions just as well, if not more effectively, than anyone else who might be more extroverted!

    • Katalina

      Oh I love this Melissa! I can relate completely

    • Jenny

      Melissa, Love that!

    • Emily B.

      This is an awesome image! Thank you for sharing!

    • Michel

      So good!! Thank you for sharing

    • Randee

      So wonderfully said — thank you so much!

  • churchmouse

    Yes! I could do the happy dance this morning! I was raised that faith was more or less having good thoughts about God. That He was up there somewhere, watching my every move with a critical eye. I was taught He held a scale where my good and bad deeds would be weighed. If the good outweighed the bad, I was “in.” If not… Well, get busy! This was a lot of pressure for a young child and even more as a teenager. Praise God that He drew me to the Truth in His Word through a few good friends. Faith, real faith, took root. The scale was broken by Truth. It was shattered at the foot of the Cross! I realized just what Claire so beautifully said in her devotion: “Faith in Jesus’s final finished work gives me the security to do good without worrying I’m doing enough.” I was set free… And that’s why today, I dance!!

  • This is off topic, but sisters, I could really use some prayers. This time in my life feels very, very lonely. I really don’t have any friends and I’m in a job that is very unfulfilling. Basically, most days I’m very sad. I try to set my joy in Jesus, and tell myself that it will all get better eventually, but it’s been a struggle. I feel like I’ve yet to find my purpose.

    • churchmouse

      Lord, you see Taylor right where she is. You see this daughter, this beloved of Yours. Please help her to feel Your presence and Your loving arms around her right now. Let her know You see and you know her struggles and her uncertainty. Remind her that You indeed have a plan, a good purpose, and that even now in the gray day, you are working to bring it to light. Bring her a Christian to befriend her and walk alongside her. Lord, do it soon. We wait to see Your hand. Amen

    • Meghan

      You’re not alone! I can struggle with the same feelings, but a lady at church recently approached me with Philippians 4:6-7 and reminded me of the peace found in the presence of the Lord.

      I normally don’t read the MSG version very often but the last part of the verse really spoke to me in a season of loneliness.

      “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.”
      ‭‭
      Praying you feel God’s wholeness and peace today, sister!

    • Missy

      Lord, I pray you give Taylor a spirit of joy. Give her passions, dreams, direction, a sense of wonder in You Lord. Above all else I pray she would know and feel your love in a fresh new way this morning. Fill her to overflowing with your Spirit.
      In Jesus Name, Amen.

    • Kathy

      Needing prayer is never off topic. Praying for you, sister.

    • Katalina

      Praying for you Taylor! We’re here for you ❤️

    • CC

      Praying for you right now Taylor! I can relate to those moments!

    • Jenny

      Taylor, I live in Pennsylvania, where are you located? I am praying for you to find a Christian friend and for your heart to be filled with a joy that knows no boundaries. May God open a door that no man may close for another job that gives you a feeling of satisfaction.

    • Alexis

      Taylor I have felt this way often and know how discouraging it can be. I’m getting this from God for you: ” Faith is substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen” Hebrews 11:1.
      Put your hope and faith in God and He will provide a community for you and a purpose. Keep seeing him always. Do not let the lies of the enemy discourage you: you are loved by an awesome God who knows everything and will be beside you in this season. Praying for you friend. <3

    • She Reads Truth

      Oh, sweet Taylor. My heart hurts for you in this time of loneliness and struggle. Please know that you have a community of women that love and support you (as made evident by the overwhelming amount of comments) and that I am praying for you, too. I am asking the Lord to do more than you could possibly imagine and to give you inexplicable joy. So, so grateful for you and that you shared this with us.

      – Stormye

  • Beautifully written! This is by far the best commentary I’ve heard on this topic. Thank you SRT!

  • This is why we should never doubt if we truly have a purpose because God uses us in different ways. He has a purpose for each and every beautiful soul here, whether it’s for something big or a small moment like Claire mentioned. And I’m sure her friend will be used by God to possibly save someone else. That’s why faith is so beautiful and wonderful to possess. You never know what exactly God has planned until the moment is presented right in front of you and isn’t the unexpected sometimes the most exciting and life changing? :)

  • My Morning Song

    Recently my husband and I have experienced some really big, amazing opportunities come our way, but they have also brought some really big, hard decisions to make. It’s in these moments that I just want to sit down like a child in the middle of the grocery store aisle and refuse to get up and move. I like my comfortable life, cushioned by good jobs, great friends/family and an abundance of things we don’t deserve. Yet I also know how much greater and beautiful life could be if I took chances and followed blind faith. The thing is, I like to know what’s going to happen. I like to feel like I have control over what will happen with our future, but truth is, I never have and never will have control over my life. The hard part for me is trusting that God has greater things in store than my dreams that are as wide as the horizon. I love to imagine that my deepest, wildest dreams will come true someday and I’ll live happily ever after, but let’s face it, I know God has some crazy, wild dreams in store for me that I could never think up on my own and will far surpass my expectations! It may not all be sunshine and rainbows, because life never is, but knowing that He holds my heart lends a peace that can’t be touched or measured. His infinite arms of love will carry me through this season and the next and the next.

    • Kandria Johnson

      This is so true. This just touched my heart. God is the author of our life. He does things we could never imagine. I am always amazed at how he works in my life.

    • She Reads Truth

      Thank you so much for sharing this. Praying for you and your husband in this.

      – Stormye

  • Christina, thank you for this personal insight. Recognizing “your piece ” is a simple step forward in faith to do what you can to increase His kingdom.

  • One of the best and most simple ways I’ve heard this concept explained is by Tim Keller: “Religion says “I obey therefore I am accepted by God.” The Gospel says “I am accepted by God through Christ therefore I obey.”‘ The latter is out of joy and gratitude, not duty.

    • Lana

      Love!!!

    • Becky

      This is a powerful wise explanation…thank you for sharing it. I am facing some hard conversations this weekend with family I love who have walked away from “religion”. This gave me an idea of something I might say.

    • She Reads Truth

      Wow. This was good, Jen. Thank you so much for sharing these wise words!

      – Stormye

  • Christina

    Beautiful! And as I am so tempted to do, “works based in faith” does not mean having to fulfill a sense of guilt for the plight of others and having to go out and find those people to fix them or their situation. The Lord seems to guide us straight to the works He has prepared for us, does He not? Sometimes I feel like I’m not doing enough, so I must not be demonstrating my faith enough. But in those moments, I have to recall His calling, remember that I respond in obedience (most of the time) to those works to which He guides me, and that I’m not responsible for saving the world. That’s His job. At times, I have bought into the pressure from outside sources that if I’m not changing the world, I’m not living out my faith. I’m thankful I’m not responsible for the entirety of refugees in the world, for every homeless person, for every abused or trafficked young person. I’m also thankful that when I recognize those people within my piece of the world, I have faith to hopefully obediently put my elbow grease into the efforts God has laid on the hearts of His children to make a difference in their lives. Thank you, again, for this, Claire!

  • Yes! Amen. This is spot on. Beautifully written. We are saved by this free gift not by works, and then continue in faith, expressing it with works of HIS love – growing our faith with each act of love.

  • amen ! I agree Cortsa.
    Sometimes I do worry if I am doing enough , growing enough or are circumstance, distractions making me blind to what God wants me to do . I pray for spiritual growth !

  • Brenda DiCicco

    I loved this. The passage in James has always made me a little uncomfortable but putting it with the other scriptures and the devotional brought a new clarity. Thanks SRT for an awesome study!!

  • Thanks for bringing even more clarity on this topic which at first glance seems contradicting. I also think it is beautiful that our good works all look different, because God has prepared different good works for each of us to do. Amen that we are HIS workmanship. It is not about us, but HIM. Amen, amen, amen.

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