Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The synergy of faith and works

Couple offers food to a homeless man
TODAY'S SPECIAL: James 2:1-26

"But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works and I will show you my faith by my works." James 2:18

Though to some James's letter opens up the possibility of contradiction (Aha—it's works that saves us, not faith!), his contrast of faith and works serves to show how they are not independent of each other but interdependent.

After naming Abraham as an example of someone who lived this interdependence "when he offered Isaac his son on the altar" (vs. 21), James asks, "Do you see that faith was working together with his works and by works faith was made perfect?"

[The words "working together" are synergeo. "Compare synergist and synergism. … There is a practical harmony or synergism between vertical faith in God and horizontal works to a needy world. Faith is both spiritual and practical" - Dick Mills, "Word Wealth," New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1754.]

Said another way:

"Faith is not simply an idea separate from real life. Rather faith is to produce in us right living, right motives, right thinking, right relationships. Our good works confirm that faith is alive and active in us. Seek to live your faith daily in practical ways" - Leslyn Musch, "Truth-In-Action Through James," New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1760.

During the Advent season opportunities abound to live this faith in practical ways. Let's take the obvious ones—from contributing food or cash to the hampers our church hands out, to inviting the lonely single to spend Christmas day with our family, to helping out with Christmas dinner at the downtown mission. Let's also look for and welcome unexpected, unusual opportunities to live out our faith during this interlude when even the secular world is exposed to the story of the One in whom our faith is anchored.

 PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to understand at the level of living the synergy of faith and works. I want my life to be a flesh-and-blood enactment of what I claim to believe. Amen.


New King James Version (NKJV) Used by permission. The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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