“Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.” James 2:20-22
The phrase that stood out for me in my lectio divina reading of the second chapter of James was: “his faith was made complete by what he did.” When we come to belief in Christ, it’s the beginning of a process — the process of sanctification. In many places in the New Testament, we are told that our faith will transform us. For example:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“ Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
Our faith is not a simple philosophical assent — it’s meant to take over our way of thinking, and also our way of behaving. Here’s a comparison for you. A while back, I took a “Prevent Diabetes” class at the local Senior Center. One of the participants came to every class. She learned about counting calories, portion control and exercise. She believed what she was taught — but she never put what she learned into practice. At the end of the year, she had made no progress toward her goal of lowering her blood sugar count. Simply sitting in class week after week didn’t get her the results she wanted. She didn’t really get with the program.
God has a program too, and it’s very simple:
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.(and) … ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Mark 12:30-31
The emotion of love is not complete until we follow it up with loving deeds. So, make sure your faith and actions work together. You’ll be pleased with the results, and so will your Father in heaven.