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A Living Faith

(James 2:14-26; 5:13-16)

Lesson 3 -- third quarter 1996
June 16, 1996

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1996, Christian Light Publications

Faith works. Always. When faith retires from the workforce, it slowly atrophies, imploding until it ceases to exist. So, genuine faith, to survive, develop and reproduce, insists on action. To do less dooms it to become a mere shell. Much like a cadaver. It still looks human, but it no longer acts human. And like a cadaver, faith can remain a mere shell only for so long. Then the forces of decomposition reduce it to a skeleton, then to dust, then to memory. Gone.

Faith works out. Exercise develops strength. Exercise manifests strength. Exercise tests strength. Exercise invigorates strength. So faith lives by a vigorous "body building" routine--daily. What are the physical benefits of routine, vigorous physical exercise? Take the answer to that question and apply them to the exercise of faith, which in this passage is likened to a spiritual body.

If yours is a living faith in the Lord, you will daily look for opportunities to live by that faith. You will want to test your faith in real-life situations--often. Why? Because you want your faith to be useful, practical and productive. Because you don't want to lose your faith. Or don't you think it's that simple?

I think we have become rather lazy in this faith business. We are happily saved by faith. But we enjoy that blessing in a static sort of way. It's high time to get active with our faith! Perhaps this is why so many generations lose out--flabby, lazy, complacent, unimaginative faith is faith well on its way to extinction.

Back to the Tijuana airport. Real faith would have insisted: "God could have prevented this. He didn't. Let's find out why!" And faith would have got to work, looking for God's opportunities there.

But what if my faith is weak? Whatever I do, I should not avoid exercising it!! We would say that the physically weak person would be foolish to wish for strength while refusing to exercise. So why are we prone to lounge around and mope around when we have weak faith?!

So, is this a hoist-myself-by-my-shoestrings operation? By no means! Listen again to a perceptive plea from a straining faith- weakling: "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:24). This is the work of the Lord in us. But He does not work in a vacuum; He expects that we work and live by the faith we have. That seems to be one of the implications of Proverbs 16:3--"Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established." So the Lord works in my heart with the faith I have to build and establish more faith. But that is not all! Here is another verse to chew and digest: "Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith" (1 Thessalonians 3:10). Perhaps I can sum this up by slightly modifying a certain children's chorus: "Jesus and others and you--what a wonderful way to spell FAITH!"

We have clearly seen that working faith profits faith. Working faith profits the one who exercises it. Who else profits? God profits. The Kingdom of God profits. My Brothers and Sisters profit. Everyone profits who lives within the sphere of that working faith.

So...is your faith a profit all the way around? Mine has a lot to go. Shall we mope together? Or shall we mutually criticize our weaknesses? No! Let's get up. Let's work and work out!

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