A Framework for Faith/Spiritual Practices
Therefore whoever wishes to be made God's dwelling-place, should strive to make himself humble and peaceable, that he may be known to be God's servant, not by his greed for talk and pliability of mien, but by the reality of his lowliness; for goodness of heart requires no false unction of talk.
- Columbanus, Sermon II (Irish, 7th century)
But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
- James 2.18
I think the ESV is misleading here. There is no hoti recitative in the Greek to require quotation marks in this verse, and the sense seems to be more like this: "But someone will say you (that is, he, the someone) have faith and I (he to whom the someone is speaking) have works." In other words, the "you" or "someone" here is claiming to have faith but has no works by which to demonstrate that his faith is real. James rightly exposes the folly of such a view.
We are redeemed unto good works (Eph. 2.10), created in Christ Jesus to follow Him in obeying and teaching the Law of God and, indeed, all His Word (Matt. 5.17-19; 1 Jn. 2.1-6). The Christian life is a calling to follow Christ in lowliness (Phil. 2.5-11), in humble service to others which demonstrates the grace, mercy, and compassion of God. If we are not living the reality of lowliness, then to what will we point in order to support our claim of being saved?
Lowliness of life begins in prayer for our neighbors, bringing them before the Lord and waiting on Him to teach and guide us in how we may serve them that day. If we will not pray for the people we encounter each day, we will not be likely to serve them, either. Which means that we'll probably end up treating them like everybody else in their lives, not as real persons with real needs.
The love of Jesus must be lived if it is to be believed. We will have many more opportunities to testify of Jesus' love if we can make the most of each opportunity to demonstrate that love to the people around us.
Study to be like Jesus, lowly, humble, a servant of all. For the reality of such lowliness will speak loudly of the reality of Christ's power at work within us.
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