THE AMEN CORNER
with Deacon Brown
February 4, 2018
This feature replaces ESSAY-LIKE SUNDAY MORNING.
Because of rain today, our Sunday School classes were held at the home of Sister Shorter. Anyone who knows anything about Georgia red clay roads and rain, knows why attempting to brave these roads today, could have been a problem.
Today’s lesson was entitled, ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. The scripture was from the book of James, chapter 2, verses 14-26. The KEY VERSE was verse 17 which reads, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (NIV).
In today’s Scripture, James speaks to his “brothers and sisters” saying,
“ 14 Dear brothers (and sisters), what’s the use of saying that you have faith and are Christians if you aren’t proving it by helping others? Will that kind of faith save anyone? 15 If you have a friend who is in need of food and clothing, 16 and you say to him, “Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat hearty,” and then don’t give him clothes or food, what good does that do?
17 So you see, it isn’t enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good works is no faith at all—it is dead and useless. 18 But someone may well argue, “You say the way to God is by faith alone, plus nothing; well, I say that good works are important too, for without good works you can’t prove whether you have faith or not; but anyone can see that I have faith by the way I act.” 19 Are there still some among you who hold that “only believing” is enough? Believing in one God? Well, remember that the demons believe this too—so strongly that they tremble in terror! 20 Fool! When will you ever learn that “believing” is useless without doing what God wants you to? Faith that does not result in good deeds is not real faith.
21 Don’t you remember that even our father Abraham was declared good because of what he did when he was willing to obey God, even if it meant offering his son Isaac to die on the altar? 22 You see, he was trusting God so much that he was willing to do whatever God told him to; his faith was made complete by what he did—by his actions, his good deeds. 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say, that Abraham trusted God, and the Lord declared him good in God’s sight, and he was even called “the friend of God.” 24 So you see, a man is saved by what he does, as well as by what he believes.
25 Rahab, the prostitute, is another example of this. She was saved because of what she did when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road.
26 Just as the body is dead when there is no spirit in it, so faith is dead if it is not the kind that results in good deeds” (The Living Bible)
FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD
THE SMART CAR
I have a challenge for you. The next time you want to take a trip in your nice dependable vehicle; the one that has never let you down; The one that has never had any major mechanical or electrical malfunctions; in fact, it may be one of the new smart cars; the kind that starts up with the push of a button on a key fob or on the dash, imagine this: You have come to trust this car for its reliability, right? You may have even come to believe that it won’t fail you. You may even have developed a degree of FAITH that your car will get you where you need to go without incident, correct?
Now, grab your keys and go out to your car and slide into the nice comfortable driver’s seat and wait. Don’t do anything else! Don’t push any buttons, or insert any keys. Don’t push the gas pedal or the brake. In fact, take no ACTION whatsoever. You don’t need to do anything because you have complete FAITH that your reliable, dependable, faithful, automobile will get you where you want to go without ANY of those ACTIONS. How long do you think you’ll have to wait before that car starts itself up and transports you to your desired destination?
My guess? A very, very, long time. AIN’T NO CAR THAT SMART….YET!
Sounds crazy right? Well, that’s what James was explaining to his fellow Christians. Simply having faith unaccompanied by ACTION does NOTHING, and as the Reverend Roosevelt Franklin used to say, “Nothing from nothing, leaves nothing”.
THE INVISIBLE MAN
I remember an episode of one of my favorite childhood cartoons–Johnny Quest–called, The Invisible Monster. In this episode, Johnny and the crew were being terrorized by an invisible monster. In order to make the monster visible, Dr. Benton Quest–Johnny’s genius father–devised a plan. He remembered that there were cans of paint in one of the buildings on the island (There is always a mysterious island). He instructed the boys to fill some plastic bags with the brightest of the paint and to get their jet packs ready. His plan was to have the boys fly over the thing and drop the bags of paint on it, thus making it visible. The plan worked. The ACTION of bombing the beast with paint allowed the crew to see their nemesis.
TALK IS CHEAP
Our faith is also invisible to the naked eye, however, DEEDS, WORKS, or ACTION are the paint that allows others to see our faith. ACTION makes our FAITH visible to them. Without ACTION our FAITH might as well be DEAD because it does not MAGNIFY THE LORD.
Believe it or not, non-believers watch us more than they listen to our words. They say, “TALK IS CHEAP!” Almost every atheist or agnostic, with whom I’ve spoken, has attributed the gap between what we say and what we do—better known as hypocrisy—as the major cause for their own non-belief.
Legend has it that the great Indian activist, Mahatma Gandhi, was once asked his thoughts on Christians. His alleged response was, “Jesus I like. Jesus was great and wonderful. Jesus said and did great things, but you Christians are not like Jesus.”
In honor of Black History Month, let’s talk about a devout Christian, Harriet Tubman. According to Galli, M., & Olsen, T. (2000), Tubman “once said she would listen carefully to the voice of God as she led slaves north, and she would only go where she felt God was leading her. Fellow abolitionist Thomas Garrett said of her, ‘I never met any person of any color who had more confidence in the voice of God.”’ The word CONFIDENCE is synonymous with FAITH. Harriet demonstrated her FAITH with ACTION.
Galli, M., & Olsen, T. (2000). 131 Christians everyone should know. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman.