You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? James 2, verse 20
We are skeptical, you and me. One of my favorite movie lines is from Judy the Elf in “The Santa Clause.” “Seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing,” says the small elf to the very shocked new Santa. In my estimation, that line sums up a lot of following Jesus. Only when we truly believe in Jesus do we really see things clearly.
Yet even then, we want evidence. We want proof, something we can touch and feel. I’ll spare you the “it’s ok because Doubting Thomas the apostle wanted evidence too.” You know it. Instead, let’s simply fess up to our shortcomings and accept the hard truth of it. We want evidence. We don’t fully believe, so we want proof.
This could be a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’ because James brings us to task, saying that those who demand proof because of their own unbelief are fools. It’s not enough for God to say to us “this is the way it is. Trust me.” No, we want more than that. James paints such people – people like us – as fools. Stop me if I’m wrong but it’s not exactly complimentary to have the brother of Jesus Christ, another of Mary and Joseph’s real children, telling us that we’re fools.
But that’s the reward, the just-due, for our skepticism. Foolishness. That’s a first-century way of saying some not-so-nice things to us that I won’t describe in twenty-first century vernacular. We don’t believe because we don’t see. Some of us, even when we see, still don’t believe. Perhaps not even some: perhaps most. It’s the way of a fallen world. When what we believe matters, and then what we do about that belief matters, it’s reasonable for James to say to us that this is self-evident. That it’s true for all of us. We’re all doubters; we all have times when we just don’t see.
In those times, James reminds us, our deeds should remind us of our faith because our deeds matter, because faith matters more. What we do about our faith is not only evidence to others. What we do should be a reminder to us that we have faith. More importantly, what we do should be a reminder to us that Jesus has faith in us whether we do things for Him or not. No matter where we are, or what we do that matters, Jesus believes in us even when we don’t always fully believe in Him. Only by believing in Jesus do we really see how it is faith that matters most, and that faith is then proven to a weary world by how we live it out. Skeptical or not, that simply is the way it is.
Lord, help my unbelief.
What things make you skeptical?
In what ways are you skeptical about your faith?
“Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?”