Today’s reading: James 1-5; 1 Peter 1-5; 2 Peter 1-3; Psalm 144
Yesterday we were reminded that we are called to live by faith, trusting that Jesus Christ has already accomplished what is necessary to put us into right relationship with God. Today, James reminds us that living by faith does not mean doing nothing nor does it give us license to do whatever we want. Quite the contrary–while we cannot earn our way to heaven, our faith is intended to move us into action. This action, or works, as James puts it, becomes the evidence that our faith is real.
Here is where the rubber meets the road for the Christian life. Mahatma Gandhi is quoted as once saying, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” All too often, it is not the gospel itself that turns people off. It is the way people behave who claim to follow the gospel. What we say we believe carries no weight if our our friends, our neighbors, our co-workers, and our classmates can see no evidence in the way we act. In fact, we become an embarrassment to ourselves and a stumbling block to others.
James says to his original audience and to us, “Don’t just talk the talk; walk the walk.” Not because the works earn us anything–but because we have already been given the very best–the free gift of God’s grace. And doesn’t that gift deserve our very best in return?