Every day during Lent, members of Oconee Street UMC will write a Lenten devotional and share with the congregation.
March 7, 2014
by Joe Dennis
James 2: 14-17
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.
The Epistle of James is the foundation of my Christian faith, and these verses are how I try to approach my daily life.
Growing up Catholic, I thought I had a firm grasp on being a good Christian: go to church every Sunday and “Holy Day of Obligation,” say the rosary once in awhile, pray the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” every day, put a few dollars in the offering, say an “Act of Contrition” for my minor sins, and go to Confession for the major sins. It was pretty simple. Despite 12 years of Catholic education, I never grasped why I had to do all these things, but I knew I wanted to go to heaven so I followed these practices anyway.
I never really read a Bible until attending a protestant church in college. I was intrigued. Wanting to further my study of the Bible, I took a New Testament course in college, and James really resonated me.
James continuously reminds us to put faith into action. He encourages us to control our anger (1:19). He says we should treat everyone equally (2:3). He says we should actively pursue peace (3:17). He tells us to speak kindly of one another (4:11). James’ writings are rooted in love — and he constantly reminds us that actions of love are what get us to heaven.
This makes sense to me. It’s how I try to approach my daily life – in the interactions I have with people, in the work I willingly pursue and in the philosophy that guides my moral and political beliefs. And rather than tout my Christianity through my words (although I certainly don’t hide my Christianity), I let my actions speak for themselves. As the hymn goes, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
Prayer: Dear Lord. Thank you for sending your son Jesus down to earth as an example for us to know how to live our lives. Please continue to remind us, as James did, that our faith requires not only our words, but more importantly our actions. Amen.