Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word, but does not do what it says, is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it--not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it--they will be blessed in what they do. James 1:22-25 (NIV)
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead... You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. James 2:17 & 20-22 (NIV)
Though I try to daily hear God's “alive and active” word, my faith is barely surviving. How can this be? Scripture reminds us that faith and actions work together...they depend on each other. They're only “alive” when they work together. Somewhere in the process between hearing God's word and putting it into action, I get stuck--and not always in the same place. To better understand what's happening, I broke down the parts of the process, and came up with these: hearing (this includes reading), listening (paying attention), pondering, understanding (comprehending), believing, trusting (having faith), being motivated and acting. It seems to me that all these parts--not necessarily in that exact order-- are important to the survival of my faith.
For example, I daily open the Bible app on my phone and either listen to a few chapters of scripture or read the verse of the day. I've been pretty proud of myself for sticking with that, but have realized that sometimes I'm hearing, but not listening...or maybe listening, but not always taking the time to ponder and better understand. Sometimes I do actually reach the point of trusting, but often lack the motivation to follow through. And if I do manage to act, it's sometimes more out of duty than love.
It's frustrating that I'm often needing to revive my faith. I want it to not just survive, but thrive! But how do I get there? Prayer! First, I need to ask God what's causing me to get stuck. Is it selfishness, fear, insecurity, laziness or something else? Then I need to pray the message found in Philippians 2:13: “God, work in me to overcome these obstacles, by giving me the desire and the power to do what pleases you.” The enemy will daily try to thwart my plans, but specific and persistent prayer will help me to resist. I look forward to one day having a faith that's “alive and kicking”!
Prayer: Infinitely wise God, forgive us for not doing everything we can to help our faith thrive. Please give us the desire and power to do what pleases you each and every day. And thank you for providing us with Your word-- an invaluable tool for doing your work in this world. Amen.