“Don’t talk about it, be about it!” My high school basketball coach would passionately scream this at us during a grueling conditioning session. For context purposes, we were very good in our area and we constantly had a target on our backs. Instead of this keeping us hungry to be better, as high school girls, sometimes it caused us to be a little cocky. It was our coach’s job to keep us working hard even though we were dominating a lot of our competition. If we wanted to continue to win, we had to stop talking about how good we were and actually decide to put the work in.
As Christians, we have the Almighty on our side, and that means the devil will put a target on our backs. If we want to have the victory we cannot get comfortable—we have to continue to workout our soul salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
James 2:19-20 tells us that belief alone is not enough:
“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”
Before moving forward I must make sure it is crystal clear that we do not earn (nor do we deserve) our salvation. It is a gracious gift from God.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
You may be scratching your head now—our faith is dead if we do not work, BUT our works don’t bring us salvation?
Let’s look at some examples that may help explain this concept. Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the “Faith hall of fame.” This chapter is filled with examples of how we show our faith by our works as James says in James 2:18. First, we can learn from an age-old example, Noah. Hebrews 11:7 says:
“By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”
God told Noah He was going to flood the earth. God gave Noah specific instructions and gave Noah the time he needed. God saved Noah and his family, but Noah had to put the work in to actually build the ark. Noah's faith led him to action.
Another example is Sarah in Hebrews 11:11. The entire passage is found in Genesis 18:1-15. When God told 90-year-old Sarah that she was going to have a baby, she laughed. We might do the same thing today. This was not a miraculous conception like Jesus. Sarah and Abraham had to show their faith and do what needed to be done for her to get pregnant.
The examples go on and on, but I think these two give us a clear understanding. Now, it is time to look introspectively: is our faith alive and well, or is it dead? The part of James 2:19 that really gets me to stop in my tracks is the fact that the demons believe that there is one God… AND THEY TREMBLE. We cannot set the bar so low that we think we deserve a pat on the back for believing—that would make us on the same level as demons. We have to show our faith daily.
Here are a few ways to see if our faith is truly alive.
Do we want to share our faith?
When I moved into college my freshman year there seemed to be free food and t-shirts around every corner. When my friends and I would get back to our dorm we would tell everyone, “Hey, there is free ice cream in the quad,” or “Hurry up, they are giving out shirts at the volleyball game.” When we heard about something free, we told our friends and we eagerly went to get whatever it was. The gospel is free and soul saving, are we eager to tell people? Paul exclaimed in Romains 1:16:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
We should not be ashamed of the soul saving gospel.
Do we pray for constant guidance?
Having an active faith means praying for that guidance in decision making knowing that If it is for you it will not miss you, and if it misses you it was never really for you. This is somewhat of a mantra for me because I know that when God has something for me there is nothing on earth that can stop it. I have seen it play out so many times in my life. Seeking God in prayer is an essential part of keeping our faith alive and well. I often think about our Lord the night He was betrayed, how He went away by himself to pray (Matthew 26:36-46). Prayer strengthens us and helps us to face whatever life throws our way. When we are battle ready, our faith will not be shaken by the things of this world.
Are we consistent?
During the pandemic many Christians’ faith have suffered. When I was pregnant with COVID and then after I had my son, I had to worship virtually for what felt like forever. It was hard to focus and I missed the fellowship. Upon returning to the building, I was shocked by how many people decided to stay home when they were completely able to come to worship. We know that we should not forsake the assembly (Hebrews 10:25), but as New testament Christians, our desire should be to worship our heavenly Father with the saints. We should want to keep God’s commandments because we love Him. As a mother, it is my responsibility to care for my son, but that is not the reason I do it—I do it because I love him so much that I can’t help but care for him. Our faith is alive when we desire to consistently worship God.
Having an active faith is a continuous journey. We have to be evangelistic, prayerful, and consistent. We cannot allow our faith to be on life support. Our faith should be thriving because we serve the almighty God.