Yesterday, I noted that the way to test the growth of your faith is to carefully analyze your actions. Are you acting on what is in the Bible?
As you contemplate that question, remember that it is possible to avoid evil and never do any good. Of course, in a sense, that is evil in itself because you are hurting your own future. But let’s not think about that because I want to focus on what will encourage us to ACT. And not just to ACT, but to act on the information and ideas that GOD provides.
Spiritual Nature Hates A Vaccum
You might think that God wants us to avoid sin, and that would be correct, but the saying goes, “Nature hates a vacuum.” Spiritual nature hates a vacuum too. If you rid yourself of sin, SOMETHING is going to take its place. That “something” can be spiritually neutral, or it can be spiritually positive in nature.
James said it a little differently. “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17).
James 1:13-18 shows us that desires lead to sin, which brings forth death. If we hope to stop sinful practices, we must learn to recognize the desires that lead to the sin, and then understand the needs we are trying to meet with those desires. We take those needs and consciously decide how we are going to fulfill them in a way that is not sinful. Thus, we fulfill our needs and also avoid bad behavior.
But there is more to Christianity than that. That process creates morally upright people, but it does not create faithful Christians. To prove that, consider this again:
It is possible to avoid doing evil yet never do good.
The important question is, “What is ‘good’?”
Instead of defining it in a positive sense, we generally define it in a negative sense. We tend to think that “‘Good’ is anything that is not evil.” This is a serious problem if we consider the above quote. It is possible to avoid doing evil yet never do good. We should define it in terms of “the royal law of liberty” mentioned in James 2:8.
Our duty in life is to look closely at our behaviors and understand them. We need to know why we do the things we do. What needs are we trying to fulfill? What desires come from those needs? The secret is not simply to deny our desires. The secret to life is to understand our needs–the source of our desires–and to find ways to fulfill those needs and desires in the way God directs us. In that way our lives are being built on the activities and ideas that are GOD’s and not our own. It is not wrong to seek to fulfill our needs. God made us with those needs. In doing that, He provided a way for us to become more like Him. He fashioned us so that if we will seek the most loving and godly way to meet those needs, we will become more godly ourselves.
In Matthew 7, Jesus told the parable of the wise and foolish builders. He stated that the foolish man built on the sand but the wise man built on a solid foundation. That solid foundation is the teachings of Jesus. He said, “Therefore, whoever hears these sayings of mine and does them…” (Matthew 7:24). Paul said, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
God created us with needs and designed us to be able to fulfill those needs in a way that will ultimately build us into the people He wants us to be. We must actively decide to live it though. We must not merely choose to stand against what is evil, nor choose what is neutral. We must choose what is good and loving. And Jesus is the perfect example of that lifestyle.
Imagine if the entire world decided to make decisions based on what is best for others. Imagine how your lifestyle would change if you decided what to eat for supper (or where) based on what is the most loving way to meet your need for food and companionship. Imagine how your marriage would transform if you decided to fulfill your need for companionship by asking what is the most loving way to meet that need so that your spouse benefits most. It would transform the way you see everyone around you. It would be a new life. It would be LIFE.
“What DOES it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” (James 2:14)
If we chose to seek to fulfill our needs in the way God prescribes, considering how to bring about joy in our lives through love, what would we become?
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
If we choose to act on our needs by fulfilling them according to love, as defined by the Bible, does this not demonstrate that we have faith that God’s way is the right way? This is “living by faith”.
What an incredible way to look at life! What a challenge! I have a lot of growing to do.
See you tomorrow!