So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone. (James 2:24)
Relate: “That’s not who I am. You just don’t see the real me.” Ever hear that line? What about, “That’s not what I meant to do. I know I messed it up, but I had the right intentions.” Then there’s the ever popular, “You just don’t understand.” This can be followed up with an explanation of their past, their emotions, their circumstances… whatever.
Everybody has an excuse to rationalize their actions. Everybody tends to minimize the things they’ve done wrong. We explain it away. We give ourselves, and appeal to others for the benefit of doubt. Our justice system calls for us to convict only when we are beyond reasonable doubt. The problem is, we often seem to presume that any shred or sliver of doubt should be considered reasonable. That is, we presume that when applied to ourselves. When it comes to others, we are quite often more than willing to convict.
React: There are two myths that float around the church world of a similar vein: “God is more concerned with who you are than what you do.” And, “God is more concerned with my heart than my actions.” I call them myths because there is a truth to them that is seen beyond reality. The problem is, we often try to apply them at face value. This is dangerous.
These two statements are a knee jerk reaction against legalism. It is true that God’s righteousness is something that works in us from the inside out. It is true that God can declare us righteous even when we are living far from that reality. It is true that works will never equal righteousness. But it is also true that who I am is determined (or demonstrated) by what I do. It doesn’t matter so much who “the real me” is. What really matters is who that “real me” belongs to.
God looks at my heart. Nobody else does. Nobody else has x-ray vision. Nobody else can know my thoughts. Nobody else understands my motivations. The only way God’s holiness can be seen through me is by what I do. The only way His love can be made manifest is by my actions. God knows whether or not I am righteous. He knows that He has made holy. The only way anyone else (including me) can know, is by how I live my life. So what am I doing to show His righteousness? Is my faith backed up by my actions?
God, I fall so short. I know how I am supposed to live but I never even seem to come close. Help me to be righteous. Help me to be holy. It can only come through Your grace, but let it come. I can never do right on my own. Help me to show this world that I am not on my own. Let the world see You, lived through me.