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)

On Death. Or Brevity of Life.

You can’t help but think of it when you hear someone you know pass away. Especially if that someone was still young. And full of potential.

I hardly know him. I only met him a few times. But the outpouring of love for him is enormous. His reputation precedes him. He’s really a great guy. “Too beautiful for this earth,” someone said.

I couldn’t help but reflect on my own life. It’s usually asked: If you only had one month or one year to live, would you do anything differently? 

I pondered on that question for a moment. Would I? Honestly, I feel it’s a “no”. Now, before you think I’m leading a perfect life, let me expound on that a bit.

If I were free to dream here, that desire I want is to be married and have kids. But with only a month or a year, that’s not possible. Get married, maybe. But if I were to pass away after that, I wouldn’t want to leave behind a husband and/or a child. If I were to pass away early, I’d want to be single.

For some people, it’s to love more. For some, it’s to travel the world. Those are great. Do that. Pursue those.

As for me, I’ve realized that walking with God actually confronts me with the reality of “death” on a daily basis. You hear it in the Gospel. Christ died for me. It’s in His word – die to yourselves daily and pick up His cross. As a follower of Christ, there must be a readiness to stand up for the truth, even unto death. As a child of God, there is a readiness and eagerness to be called home any time..

I’m not meaning to be morbid. Some people would be quick to say here, “Don’t speak of such things.” But only in the face of darkness can you see the light. Or in loss can you appreciate what you have.

So this is my life. Sometimes I do feel I’m ready to leave any time.. At times, I struggle to be content, that there must be more this world can offer. And yet I know that this life can’t satisfy it: I’m longing for that sweet, tender taste of heaven. To be content yet discontent in this world. To be a stranger in a foreign land.

So let me leave you with Psalm 90:12

NIV: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

NLT: “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”

May we all grow in wisdom as we learn to live the life God has graciously given us.