A Painful Test
He (Abraham) believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:6
I often just assume that I believe. As I have accepted that God exists and as I claim to follow Christ, I have faith. Isn’t this a once and done decision? Abraham’s belief in today’s passage was a constant thing, right?
Two-thousand years after Abraham, James, brother of Jesus, explained that Abraham’s faith was completed by his works (James 2:22). Abraham’s belief, James said, was only authentic as much as it impacted his behavior. Knowledge alone is not faith. Faith is knowledge transformed into action.
I have often claimed belief in God but then behaved in a manner completely contrary to that belief. I said I had faith but I followed me. As long as all the stuff I pursued was not that bad, I could keep up the charade. I could go to church and sing the songs while chasing my own desires. It was not until I followed myself into the destruction of drug addiction that I saw the truth of James teaching. Authentic faith must impact how I live.
I cannot say that I follow Christ while refusing to change my behavior. A good but painful test for me then, is to ask myself how I have lived the past hour, day or week. Has my life reflected that which I claim to believe? This can be a very unpleasant exercise as, at times, I fail miserably.
Thankfully, because of Christ, there is always forgiveness when I fail. I do not fall in and out of God’s grace when I follow me. To use this grace as an excuse to do as I please though, is to completely miss the meaning of faith. If I use saved by faith as justification for not changing my behavior, then I’m not actually practicing faith.
Abraham’s belief radically changed every aspect of his life. We cannot miss this truth. Faith is belief translated into action. Acceptance of a fact, God exists, is simply knowledge, not faith.