How to Activate Your Faith

From "Altared", Claire & Eli
From “Altared”, Claire & Eli

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:17 (NIV)

It’s easy to fall into that category of not doing anything. Of spitting out that catchphrase “I’m waiting on God.” Or that category of doing something crazy and saying, “I’m not waiting on God anymore.”

Perhaps you’re in the midst of a major life circumstance. Simple ones are easy – daily routine tasks that require no more than five seconds for us to decide. But there are the big ones that leave you staring into space, baffled on your next steps. These usually concern our career (or lack of), or relationships (or lack of), or family, or health, or finances. We’re more careful with these life challenges (or we should be) as the consequences could have a lasting impact on our life.

So how do you strike that balance between waiting and doing something? Of moving along with God and not moving behind him or before him? How do you navigate your way around these circumstances, from inaction to action?

1. Wait on God and be still.

Yes, this would still be the first step. Let me clarify this as this seems like the opposite of moving into action. Waiting and being still often conjures up images of not doing anything at all. Of just sitting around and waiting for an outside force to drop something good on our lap. But we’re also reactive people with a mix of hazy emotions and easily malleable by all the noise of people, things and influences around us. All of these easily confuse us and pushes us to do things that on hindsight were already veering us on the wrong track.

Thus, we need the silence. We need to re-focus our sights on what’s important and what’s real. And it’s in the silence and calmness that we can reconnect with our Creator to know His purposes for us.

Waiting on God is not simply sitting around. It means we need to pick up our bibles and align our life with His word. The psalmist recorded, “Be still and know that I am God.” All around him were troubles, of the earth giving way, of oceans roaring and mountains trembling. That’s a pretty scary sight. I would be anxious inside too. So it starts by calming ourselves and acknowledging that we have a BIG God out there.

2. Let wisdom guide your action.

After relating to us the connection between Faith and Action, James continues in the next chapter to tell us about Two Kinds of Wisdom. Our actions will stem from our perspectives and understanding. The wrong kind of wisdom is from our natural human inclinations. It is selfish and earthly, and only makes us do crazy things that mess us up even further.

The right kind of wisdom comes from God. It is “pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere”.

Ask yourself, will this new job or venture make me into a better person? Will it develop my skills and character? Will starting or continuing in this relationship be what’s best for the other person? Am I doing this to honor God, or only for myself or the money?

3. Just do something.

We may fall into the trap of not doing anything, paralyzed in fear that we may do the wrong thing. Or we may be faced with two good choices (good for you!) and we don’t know which one aligns with God. But we also need to know that God is sovereign and even at this very moment, He is leading us. So just go out and do something.

And while we may make the wrong choices (and we will make a few of them), know that He is a merciful and gracious God, who can redeem those circumstances and veer us on the right track. After all, it’s in making bad decisions that we learn how to make the right ones, don’t we?

So be still before God, seek His wisdom and just do something!

Remember, Faith always moves us into action.

“But someone may say, “You have faith, and I have actions.” Show me your faith without any actions, and I will show you my faith by my actions.” James 2:18 (ISV)

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Impatient and Restless

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It takes over in bouts and cycles. One minute, singleness is a season I’m thankful to be in – enjoying and embracing it like no other. But the next, I get restless. I think of the man I’m praying for and God’s perfect timing. Will he ever come? Is marriage a gift God will ever give to me?

I thought I had gained triumph and victory over this season. Being content and joyful in my present circumstances. And yet, random daily things reveal the impatience hiding in the inner recesses of my heart.

This is the yoke of singleness. 

It goes through peaks and valleys, through joys and struggles unique to it. Just like any other season. Just as in marriage. Just as in life.

 

Paul – The Single Man

Not even Paul was immune to it. In his letter to the church in Corinth, he talked of the hardships and sufferings he went through in preaching the Gospel. And this –

“Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin,and I do not inwardly burn?” (2 Corinthians 11:29)

This is as real as it gets for Paul in his single state. He struggled just as any of us do. He went through times of weakness, of loneliness, of burning inside.

But he pressed on.

Did he ever thought of giving up? Of leaving this for another life? Of coming home instead to a warm meal and soft bed, to a wife he can share his life with?

Perhaps. We don’t know.

But we do know that he continued to fight the good fight of faith. Perhaps he thought of these things, yes. But perhaps he also thought that none of these compared to the greatness of God’s mission for him. That what this life has to offer paled in comparison to seeing God’s glory in the midst of his suffering.

And just like Paul, I will fight the good fight of faith.

When my heart feels weak and restless, I will look to Jesus. It’s not a yoke of singleness or of marriage. There’s only one yoke that all of us share – the yoke of Christ. And He promised that His yoke is easy and His burden, light.

How can this be?

Because Jesus carries it for us. Let Him.