Movement is Evidence of Life | James 2

Welcome to Real Life. Show me your faith!

People say nothing is impossible,
but I do nothing every day.
–A.A. Milne

Out hiking, my husband and I spied a momma robin in her nest. She sat so still. We assumed she did so to camouflage her presence. As we approached, however, she never turned, blinked, or even closed her beak. That’s when we realized. She’s dead. Movement is evidence of life.


Like that momma bird, unless our faith results in some form of action, it’s dead. Movement is evidence of life.
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough.
Unless it produces good deeds,
it is dead and useless.
James 2:17 NLT
By grace we are saved through faith.[1] That faith, however, should move us to pray, give, forgive, help, serve, and more. These good deeds don’t save us. If we could drum up enough goodness to earn heaven, Jesus did not have to shed his blood. But we can’t. We need Jesus! We cannot achieve righteousness. We can only receive it when we kneel at the cross and say, “Lord, I believe!” Then, once we have received Christ, his Spirit will move us to action. Movement is evidence of the life of Christ in us.

For those geared to action, the faith-work relationship can be tricky. For a long season, I focused on serving. I worked so hard trying to please God that I neglected my relationship with him. I moved further and further from his heart of love. Apart from love, good deeds become empty and meaningless.[2] God’s priority is love. More than anything we do for God, he longs for our hearts.[3] When our hearts are grounded in his love and grace, that’s when our part kicks in. We cooperate with his Spirit, put forth the effort, and complete the work he calls us to do. 

Abraham exemplifies the faith-work relationship. He believed God. Because he trusted God's goodness, when God asked him to do something unthinkable, something he didn't understand, Abraham obeyed. He was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac. God stayed Abraham's hand, of course. Isaac lived. But Abraham's faith was made complete by his actions. And by those actions, his invisible faith became visible to us all. Though faith is deeply personal, it is meant to be seen. The things we do that are motivated by faith reveal God to the world. 

Faith comes first. As we grow in grace and love and relationship with our heavenly Father, his Spirit will move us to acts of love, kindness, and service. These good deeds do not earn God’s love and favor. (We already have it. Hallelujah!) God’s love and favor motivate us to do good. Unlike momma bird, that movement is evidence of life.

If you are wise and understand God’s ways,
prove it by living an honorable life,
doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.
James 3:13 NLT


Father God,
We believe in you.
We open our hearts to you.
What do you want us to do today?
Move us by your Spirit.
Give us the wisdom, understanding, and humility
To do the good works you call us to do.
In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Take it further and read James 2.

[1] Ephesians 2:8–9
[2] 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
[3] James 4:5

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