14 My brothers and sisters, what good is it if people say they have faith but do nothing to show it? Claiming to have faith can’t save anyone, can it? 15 Imagine a brother or sister who is naked and never has enough food to eat. 16 What if one of you said, “Go in peace! Stay warm! Have a nice meal!”? What good is it if you don’t actually give them what their body needs? 17 In the same way, faith is dead when it doesn’t result in faithful activity.
24 So you see that a person is shown to be righteous through faithful actions and not through faith alone. 25 In the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute shown to be righteous when she received the messengers as her guests and then sent them on by another road? 26 As the lifeless body is dead, so faith without actions is dead.
Sometimes it is just better to use someone else’s words when their understanding and authority is better. Let’s look at how John Wesley described genuine faith that produces inward and outward growth, love and action.
The inward restorative process cannot help but find expression in an improved moral character outwardly. Jesus commanded, “Be perfect therefore as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). Jesus also taught that true Christian discipleship requires loving God with all the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving neighbor as self (Mt. 22:34-40). Wesley understood this process as leading to maturity of character and ever-increasing love for God.
The New Testament word “perfection” translates from a Greek term that means maturity or completion: it does not mean flawlessness. Therefore, whenever Wesley discussed holiness, sanctification, or perfection (all synonymous), he preferred the expression “Christian perfection.” Christian perfection, for Wesley, is achievable in this present life because it has to do with affection. When, by the grace of God infused into the soul through the Holy Spirit, one’s love for God and others is made pure and complete, their lifestyle cannot help but increase in virtue, finding expression in loving, selfless actions. Faith working outwardly through love was one of Wesley’s favorite biblical themes (Gal. 5:6).
by Clarence Beverage
For Pondering & Prayer
There is no limit to the ways that we can offer something uplifting for another person and from that action feel that God was present.
In the last few days, several people we know were sent a link to the song, “Bubbles Up”, by Jimmy Buffett. This beautiful song starts by setting the stage with the words “when this world starts a-reelin” then it goes on to “there’s a way to feel better.” The chorus “Bubbles Up, they will point you towards home, no matter how far you roam, they will show you the surface…” takes on deeper meaning when you learn that “bubbles up” is a diving phrase to remind you that if you are lost and need to get back to the surface, just look up and follow the bubbles.
Several have described how hearing the “Bubbles Up” song was just what they needed at the moment. Take a listen. See how you feel.
Prayer: Holy Lord, we thank you for the unexpected in this world that is born in the Spirit and then takes flight in our hearts and minds as we read words, hear a song or see something that moves us. Thank you for your Word and for those who explain it, for giving us the ability to actively do things that reflect your love, touches others, fueling ever greater love. Amen.