As a kid, religion was boring and seemed to be about a bunch of rules to follow. If you failed to follow the rules, then you went to Confession and felt guilty and unworthy.
No wonder as soon as I could I ran away from Christianity!
Now, that’s not the message the school or Church intended, but as a kid, that’s how I received it.
I didn’t understand what being a Christian meant, what the actual ‘rules’ were or the power of God’s love.
It wasn’t until I was an adult where it all came together.
There is nothing we can do to make God love us more, and there is nothing we can do to make God love us less. God’s love is pure, true, abundant and free-giving.
God’s love for us has nothing to do with our merits.
Book of James
James talks about the correlation between God and our actions. At first glance, you would think he’s saying what you do matters to God.
Well, he’s right.
Has someone ever said they loved you, but you felt they weren’t contributing to the relationship? Perhaps they were always late and never put the effort in? Have you ever said “you’re doing nothing to show you value our relationship”
Has someone ever said sorry for something they did and then kept doing the thing they were sorry for? Have you ever said “Don’t tell me you’re sorry, show me by changing your behavior”
Actions Show Love
My husband’s pet peeve is having dishes in the sink. It’s something he has always been picky about. Recognizing this importance, I make sure when he gets home, the sink is clean. Not out of obligation – I do this out of love. It’s something I know is important to him, something he likes and something I know will make him happy.
If I stop cleaning out the sink, he will not stop loving me. (He might be slightly annoyed with me – and share how he hates a dirty sink though!)
The point is, I’m showing him with actions – not because I have to, but because I want to. I love my husband, and I know this is important to him and I want him to know I love him.
This same concept can apply to Faith and God. When you fall in love with God, your reason for doing things changes.
You don’t see a set of rules that feel obligatory. You are happy to do these things and you want to make God proud. Not because you’re hoping to get into God’s “good books” but because you know it’s important to your relationship with God.
It shifts your perspective from obligatory duty to the desire to please God.
I could say I love my husband, but do nothing to contribute to the relationship. I can tell you, this would cause for a difficult and miserable marriage. The more I say I love him without following through actions, the further we’d drift apart because my words would mean nothing.
I can do the same with faith. I can say I believe in God, but do nothing to contribute to the relationship. We would begin to drift apart, and people looking in would not believe me when I say I’m a Christian. They would call me a hypocrite.
But, if I say I’m faithful to God and apply my faith every day (loving neighbors as myself) that’s true faith.
That’s what James means when he says; “you see what a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone”
Words say something, and actions prove your word. When you follow through with actions, when you do what you say, that makes you authentic and true to your faith.
That is what God wants. What do your actions say about you?