Sometimes it’s difficult to view our lives as a whole. We fulfill different roles as we interact with different people at school, home, work, and even church. In the natural donning and discarding of these roles, we might be tempted to compartmentalize our lives, yet we do so to the detriment of our faith. Even as we read our Bibles with intellectual vigor at home and participate in a small group at church, we might miss the mark of application. We forget to connect the dots, neglecting to treat our coworkers with kindness and our peers with love. We can know our faith intellectually but still miss out on the call to action and the response of obedience in our lives.
But James shows us that belief and action are inextricably linked. When we think about them as separate entities, we develop a deep-rooted problem: “But do you want to know … that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith was working together with his works, and by the works the faith was perfected” (Jas 2:20–22).
James wasn’t arguing that Abraham earned his righteousness before God; rather, Abraham was acting out of obedience as a response of faith. As people who have been redeemed by Christ, we can joyfully express our faith—we are enabled to do good works because of His work. Although we won’t attain perfect obedience in this life, we will desire obedience and love. We will desire to use our lives to apply what we know in our heads and feel in our hearts. Because of our faith, we will do good works.
Real faith doesn’t sit still, but it doesn’t move on its own, either. We need to pray for God’s Spirit to ignite this desire in us, prompting us to act with love and obedience. In what area of your life are you missing the mark of application? How can you pray for wisdom in that situation? How can you act faithfully?