In James 2:14-17 it says,
“What use is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him?  If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?  In the same way, faith also, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”

In an Around the Supper Table a few weeks ago, Pa and I were discussing the ideas of discipline versus doing things because it was who you were or what you desired or sought after. This idea is difficult for me, because on the outside, I appear to be disciplined; but on the inside, if left to my own devices, I am quite undisciplined. I compensate for this by creating habits to keep me moving.  I get up at a specific time, I read my Bible and pray at a specific time, I work out, I go to work, and I eat at specific times. I live by my schedule to combat my desire to do nothing.

So the idea that ‘living a life of disciple’ wasn’t the highest we could achieve was a little hard for me to grasp. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with discipline. I guarantee that if you don’t set aside time to study your Bible, you probably won’t. However, discipline is just the beginning, not the end.

Again, I don’t think Pa was knocking discipline. If I have faith, but I am too undisciplined or lazy to have works, the faith is meaningless.  I think what he was saying is that our works should naturally flow from our faith. We don’t prove that we have faith by our works. We have works because of our faith.  The problem is that so many times I substitute a living active faith for a checkbox of religion.
Did I read my Bible today?  Check.
Did I pray today?  Check.
Was I nice to people today?  Check.

Now that the groundwork of not checking the box has been laid, how do we go about living in faith and not just discipline?  There are two ideas that have helped me.

Act Like Christ
When we look through the whole Bible, who is the best example of living by faith and being guided by the spirit?  Of course the answer is Jesus.  So here are some questions to think about. How are you like Christ?  Are you compassionate to those who are struggling like Jesus was with the woman at the well?  Are you filled with passion for what God says is right and wrong like when He ran the money changers out of the temple?  Do you care about the people who follow you, the people you can mentor, the people that look up to you like Jesus did with the disciples?  Find what it is that you like about Jesus and what it is about Jesus that you are drawn to then start living these things in your life.

Let the Spirit Guide You
Look at the gifts of the spirit that are talked about in the Bible. (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-30; Ephesians 4:11-12).  Find one or two that you feel pulled towards or ones that you are already doing.  Then give in completely to what you feel the Spirit is guiding you to do.  Then get out of the way.  As much as you can, don’t make it about you.  Don’t make your work about how great you are or how spiritual you are.  The work is only about showing others who God is, His love, and helping others find a relationship with Him.

So in conclusion, faith without works is dead. Our works will come from the Spirit working through us as we act like Christ and show others His love. Our works do not come from or reflect how good we are, but it should show how great and loving He is.

— Written by Jeremiah

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