What is faith? If someone stopped you on the street and asked you that question for a a survey, how would you answer? Would you tell them it is positive thinking? A sense of hope? Or following a list of spiritual disciplines?
In its most basic form, faith is a gift to us by God. “For my grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). This concept of a free gift makes me think of a scenario that we can slip into every so subtlety. It goes like this:
Let’s say you receive a birthday gift from a friend. Instead of thanking your friend for the lovely gift, instead you say, “I love it, now how much was it so I can pay you back?” That kind of a response neither feels right nor is the appropriate response. However, that is what we are doing when we think we have to work for God’s gift of faith. The right response to my birthday example is to either send her a thank you note or tell her thanks in person. However, in our humanity we can get our wires crossed and find ourselves slipping into the mindset that we have to prove ourselves worthy of such a gift. God, in His grace, gave us the gift of faith and the only right response is to simply accept it in joy and gratitude.
Receive with Joy and Gratitude
It is in this state of joy and gratitude that motivates us to be of service to others. “For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life” (Ephesians 2:10). Not only did God save us for a purpose, but it is His intention that we would make doing good works a way of life. When we demonstrate our faith through outward actions, it reveals that our faith is active and God is at work within us. While it is true that a genuine faith produces good works, it is equally true that if our lives are not changed as a result of a believing faith in Jesus Christ we are not in agreement with what we claim to believe. “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works (James 2:14) When our faith is genuine two areas of our lives will be changed: our actions and our thoughts.
Horse and Cart
Faith and good works work in tandem, much like a horse and cart. The horse, for the sake of this example, represents faith, and the cart filled with good works follows behind. If the horse (faith) is absent, the cart (good works) is dead in the middle of the road. Faith is what leads a person to salvation, and good works is the by-product of that faith. Good works doesn’t justify us; it simply proves our faith.
The Bible says in Matthew 5:16 to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven”. For the Christian bearing fruit, or good works, isn’t an option. The Holy Spirit does the internal work of gradually changing us into Christlikeness, but it is up to us to be reflectors of Him. At the end of the day, faith lived out is what God is most concerned about, not what we say we believe, but in the way we live out what we confess to believe.
Post/Tweet: #Faith and good works operate like a horse and cart. Without the faith, (horse), the cart (good works) is dead.