This passage is an important teaching on how faith must not be just “head” knowledge; it must include knowledge, which will shape your beliefs and worldview, but it must also be seen in how you live your life. If you follow a God whose unselfishness led to the ultimate sacrifice of His own Son, and whose Son was humble enough to die a shameful death for sinners, how is that same unselfishness and humility reflected in your own life? We can show these through our actions, our “deeds”.
Abraham and Rahab did not replace faith with deeds, but it is faith that pushed them into action. When Rahab saved the Israelite spies, she already knew that “the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” (Joshua 2:11). It was only because Abraham believed God that he was willing to take such an unthinkable step.
Faith, of course, is necessary to the Christian life (when a jailer asked Paul in Acts 16:30-31 “What must I do to be saved?” the answer was “Believe in the Lord Jesus”). Faith cannot be underestimated; the focus in this passage, though, is adding actions to faith. Actions are the practical ways we serve God and others, and show our faith to the world.
Our deeds should be a sign that we are Christ-followers, and different from the world; the examples above (Abraham preparing to sacrifice his son, Rahab risking her life by helping Jewish spies) are not easy or automatic. They require a decision, and a willingness to sacrifice: Abraham his son, Rahab her life and safety. Even the example in verses 14-16, of caring for those in physical need, could require sacrificial giving of money or goods, and spending time with people from other sectors of society.
Eastbrook Church (see eastbrook.org/serve), local community organizations, and international organizations offer so many practical ways—even during a pandemic—to respond to this teaching. There are many ways to humbly serve God and others to live out this passage; ask God what deeds He would have you perform, and then do them!
- How does what you do with your time and resources reflect your faith? If it doesn’t, what needs to change?
by Maggie Freitag
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