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In Luke 17, the disciples asked Jesus for more faith. I’ve fallen into that trap myself: believing I could have more or less faith and that my amount of faith determines God’s response. They felt like it was the amount of faith Jesus had that gave Him the ability to do the things He was doing. The response Jesus gave them in verse 6, proves it isn’t the amount of faith you have that motivates God.
Jesus said, “You don’t need more faith. There is no ‘more’ or ‘less’ in faith. If you have a bare kernel of faith, say the size of a poppy seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘Go jump in the lake,’ and it would do it” (MSG). There isn’t a size of faith. Either you have faith or you don’t. If you have faith that God will do something, you will act on that faith. If you have faith, you can speak to things and they will move.
James tells us that faith without works is dead. He’s saying, if you really have faith, you will act on it. If you aren’t doing anything by faith, you have none. Either you have faith and prove it daily, or you have none and prove it too. Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” He understood that you will always act according to what you believe. If you don’t believe God will answer, you won’t really pray. If you do, you will pray and show you believe it.
Faith isn’t about size, it’s about action. When the disciples asked for more faith, they got schooled by Jesus. When a man in Mark 9 asked Jesus if He could heal his boy, Jesus responded in verse 23 with, “If? There are no ‘ifs’ among believers. Anything can happen.” Our response should be like this man’s. He replied, “Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!” You only need a greater faith than your doubts if you want to act on it. If your faith isn’t strong enough to act on, then ask God to help you with your doubts.
How many times have you told someone, “Actions speak louder than words”? Probably too many times to count. A pet peeve that we all share is someone who says one thing and does another. It speaks to their credibility and your ability to trust what they say. I’m sure we can all think of examples right now of times we’ve encountered this in others. The sad thing is that it happens in the Church as much as anywhere. That’s why the book of James in the Bible is pretty much about just that.
We’re all familiar with “Don’t just be a hearer of the Word, but a doer also,” and “Faith without works is dead.” James continues this theme throughout his book to remind us that we can’t just talk like Christians, we must live and act like Christians. James 3:13 says, “Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts” (MSG). As he wrote, it speaks to our reputation.
Living well can be translated into living honorably. People around us should be able to trust what we say. Proverbs 22:1 says, “A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich.” What is your reputation among other believers? Are you someone they can count on? Are you a person that has an honorable reputation among your local group of believers? What about your reputation among non-believers? To me, this one is of utmost importance. If the faith we claim is denied by the way we live, how will we win them?
I was always told that integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking. What I’ve learned is that there is always someone looking. People are always watching us as believers. Our lives should reflect what we say we believe. I’m not saying you have to live perfectly because that’s impossible, but you do have to live honorably. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. So let’s not have dead faith. Let’s be doers of the Word and live a life that acts out the faith we profess.
We’ve all heard the verse James 2:17, “Faith without works is dead.” It’s a verse we hear from the time we are children. We are not saved by our works, but works flow out of our salvation. A person who is given a second chance at life sees things differently and lives differently. A person whose life is rescued by another lives in gratitude to that person. Because they are thankful, they act differently. So we too act differently when we are saved. James understood this and wrote that verse in his letter. John said it a little bit differently though.
In I John 3:16-18, John had some strong words as well for us. He wrote in verse 16, “This is how we know what love is: Christ gave His life for us. We too, then, ought to give our lives for others. (GNT)” Giving our lives for others is one of the works James wrote about, John took it a step further and described it as an act of love. This can mean that you would give your life in the place of someone else’s, but that doesn’t happen often. Instead, the Message writes it like this, “We ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves.”
Giving ourselves sacrificially for others is something we can do often and repeatedly. Giving our life is a one time thing. As Christians, we should have a mindset that is looking out for others. I Corinthians 13:5 (depending on the translation) says, “Love does not seek its own,” “Love is not selfish,” and “Love cares more for others than for self.” True, Christian love gives itself for others. John believed that so much that in verse 17 he wrote, “If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion – how can God’s love be in that person? (NLT)” Living sacrificially for others is a sign of God’s love in us.
He didn’t say give everything to that person, he said we have to show them compassion and help them. If someone sees a fellow believer in need and turns away, John questioned whether they had God’s love in them. Living sacrificially for others means you offer your resources, your skills and / or your time to those who need it most. God’s love in us recognizes that we have things to do for ourselves, but puts the needs of others ahead of our own. It acts in their best interest. Proverbs 19:17 says, “If you help the poor, you are lending to the Lord – and He will repay you! (NLT)”
John finished his thought about living sacrificially in verse 18 like this, “My children, our love should not be just words and talk; it MUST be true love, which shows itself in action.” We can’t just sit around and talk about God’s love, we must do something to show it. We don’t have a choice according to this verse. Not only is faith without works dead, God’s love in us without action is dead. It’s time we quit talking about our faith and started living out our faith. It’s time we quit talking about God’s love and started showing God’s love. Look around you today and see which believers needs you to live sacrificially for them.
I’ve always enjoyed reading the miracles that Jesus performed. There are a lot of similarities in them. A lot of the times Jesus tells the person, “Your faith has made you whole.” That phrase has always stood out to me because it puts the power of the miracle in the hands of the one receiving it. Other times, Jesus tells the person to go and do something and as they turn away to do it, they receive their healing. Again, it was their action that triggered the healing. In the miracles that I can think of, it’s always a partnership between the person in need and Jesus.
The disciples found five loaves and two fish and jesus fed 5,000. The blind man at the Pool of Siloam had to go wash his eyes for sight. The invalid lowered through the roof by his friends had to pick up his mat. Peter had to cast his nets on the other side. The woman with the issue of blood had to touch the hem of His garment. The ten lepers had to go show themselves to the priest. Each of these required action on the person’s part. They had to act in faith to receive their miracle.
At work, I study Brian Tracy philosophies in sales. One of the things he talks about is the Law of Belief. It says that your beliefs become your realities. He adds to it that people always act in a manner consistent with their beliefs. I immediately translate that to a life of faith. Peter believed if he got out of the boat, he would walk on water. No one else got out of the boat. It makes me think that he was the only one who truly believed he could do it. Each person in that boat acted on their belief. I quickly realized that my beliefs are not what I say they are, but rather what I act on.
There’s a difference in saying I believe in something and in acting on that belief. My actions speak louder than words. James put it this way: faith without works is dead. You could also say, “Faith without action is dead.” The Bible is full of miracles and promises of God that require action on our part. You and I are part of the equation that God uses to solve problems. When we truly believe that He can use us, we start acting in a manner consistent with that belief. We actively become His hands and feet. Until that point, as James put it, our faith is dead.
What has God asked you to do that you’ve been holding back on? Where has He asked you to go, but you still haven’t moved? Put your actions where your words are. Step out in faith and act on what you believe. Peter did and he’s the only disciple that can say he walked on water. It’s time we got out of our boats and started trusting God to do the impossible. If we truly believe that all things are possible with Him, we’ll act in that manner. Believe what God tells you, trust in His Word and put your faith into action. Your life will forever change at that moment.