October 28, 2018

James 2:22… You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works.

            This statement was made about Abraham, who took his son up a mountain to sacrifice him when he was quite young.

            In several places in scripture, we learn that salvation is a free gift. It is not earned or given because of good works. And yet, somehow, (imagine it) an argument developed about the role of works in a Christian’s life. This section of scripture reminds us that good works are relevant and have a place in our lives. At the same time, James stresses the importance of faith and its place.  

            The other thing that is emphasized in this section is obedience. God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham’s willingness to do what he was asked was not to prove his worthiness to God; it demonstrated his understanding of the dynamics of their relationship. He was going to be used by God but God was still God. And he was simply a willing servant. He would not let even the life of his own son interfere with his relationship with God. And that brings us to pause…

            What would be a deal breaker between you and God? Money? Health? Family? Abraham did not know that God would interrupt him when he sacrificed Isaac and would supply a ram instead. He just knew that somehow God would work it out. We know it didn’t look right because he didn’t even tell Sarah, his wife and the mother of Isaac, what he was doing that day. Abraham stood his ground and became the father of the faithful by his good work; it was counted to him as righteousness. We ought to be thankful that he did it. It was not just that he believed he should do it; he did it. And that gives us a relationship to faith that we were born, again, into. Nothing will be allowed between God and me.

            What do you do when God asks you to love the unlovely? What about when he asks you to help someone who can’t help you in return? What excuse will you use to explain your lack of obedience? As we have noted, obedience assumes/requires trust. Obedience is not to prove faith, nor is it to improve salvation; it is our response to our loving God and His role as king in our lives.