Faith vs. Grace
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. (NIV)
Friend to Friend
Our home is a virtual zoo. Currently, we only have four cats, two dogs, one ball python snake and several sacrificial mice to feed the snake. However, in the past, we have had iguanas, fish, birds, hamsters, turtles and even a lost baby duck named Peepers - in addition to five cats and two dogs. Just call me Mrs. Doolittle! As the animals have come and gone there has been one who has stolen all of our hearts and never wavered in personality or loyalty. His name is Tiger. Tiger is a large brown Tabby, whose entire existence consists of taking naps on the family room couch, eating his food as well as the dog food when no one is looking and waiting on his human staff to carry out his demands and desires. Tiger has taught me many truths over the years but I have to admit that his strongest lesson is in the area of faith. We have a pet door that allows the cats to come and go as they please. But Tiger does not like to use it. He prefers the front “human” door. I am not sure if he thinks the pet door takes entirely too much energy to bend down two inches in order to crawl through or if he just prefers the front door but, in either case, Tiger has us well trained. He will position himself directly in front of the door and stare up at the doorknob. Occasionally, he will turn to look back at us with pitiful brown eyes as if to say, “Doesn’t anyone love me enough to open the door?” Tiger will sit there as long as it takes because he is confident that sooner or later someone will give in and let him out. Now that is faith!
Faith is more than just believing. It is acting on that belief. The sinful woman described in the book of Luke does just that. Jesus said to her, "Your faith has saved you.” Her tears, good works or extravagant gift did not save this woman. The sinful woman was saved by her faith. The Apostle Paul writes, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV). Grace is love that paid a high price. That price was the death of Jesus on the cross. Faith is accepting that gift of grace and making it our own. Jesus accepted the sinful woman’s gifts as evidence of her faith.
James “Dear brothers and sisters, what's the use of saying you have faith if you don't prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can't save anyone”.
What James is telling us is that real faith will always produce good works. We are not saved by faith plus works. We are saved by faith that leads to good works. Paul Harvey once said, "If you don't live it, you don't believe it."
I love the story of a Christian man worked each day transporting tourists across a lake in a rowboat. Sometimes he would share his personal relationship with God in an unusual way. He painted the word "faith" on one of the oars and "works" on the other. When they were far from shore, he would stop and begin to row with only the one oar marked "faith". The boat would go in circles to the left. Reversing the process, he would pull on the other oar marked "works". They would circle in the opposite direction. By this time, the passengers were waiting for an explanation. He would share his faith in God and concluded by saying, "You see neither faith nor works can stand alone. They are twins that cannot be separated!"
James Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless? (NLT)
Many times, we have the idea that if we do enough good works, our lives will please God. But those works are useless and count for nothing unless a heart filled with faith motivates each one. Faith is the altar of powerful worship.
Hebrews 11: 6 Without faith no one can please God. Anyone who comes to God must believe that he is real and that he rewards those who truly want to find him. (ICB)
Come to Jesus like this sinful woman - in simple child-like faith - and you will worship God.
As children bring their broken toys
With tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God,
Because He was my friend.
But then, instead of leaving Him
In peace, to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help
In ways that were my own.
Finally I took them back and said,
"Dear God, why are you so slow?"
"My child," He said, "what could I do?
You never did let go."
Father, I want to have the faith of a child. Forgive me when my fear causes me to doubt You or Your plan. Strengthen me when I rely on emotions or feelings instead of the Word of God. Give me a hunger and thirst for Your truth and a heart that desires You above all else. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Now it's Your Turn
Faith is based on God’s fact – not our feelings. Faith is often the result of a deliberate choice to obey even when we don’t understand and can’t see the plan. In fact, faith requires us to make several choices:
· I choose faith over doubt.
· I choose to believe God’s word.
· I choose to stand firm when the “storms” come this week.
· I choose to count on God’s holiness instead of my effort.
For more on this subject, check out Mary’s CD, Stepping Out in Faith.
Girlfriends in God, Inc.