“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” — James 2:14
When we say we believe in Jesus, what exactly do we mean? On one hand, we could simply mean that we believe He is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do–mainly, save us. That’s belief at an intellectual level.
On the other hand, however, if we think this through, we can’t stop there. If Jesus really is who He says He is, that means He is Lord of the universe and the reason for our own existence. God created us through Him. We belong to Him at creation, and though we were lost in sin, we were ransomed back by His own death. If we believe in Jesus–at whatever level–we have to believe what He says.
Many Christians say they believe in Jesus, but they don’t really apply His words to their lives–or even care to learn them thoroughly. Jesus asked a pointed question of His disciples: “Why do you call me, Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). In other words, if they really believed He was Lord, they would have followed His instructions precisely. But they didn’t. They must not really have believed He was Lord.
We probably won’t ever follow Jesus perfectly in this life, but if we really believe He is Lord, we will make an extraordinary effort to do what He says. James is pointing out to his readers in this verse that they are perhaps inconsistent in their understanding of who Jesus is. Their minds say He is Lord. Their actions do not.
What do your actions say about Jesus? Ignore your mental beliefs, your intellectual understanding, and even your words for a moment. What do your actions say about Him? Do they declare who He is? Or is there an inconsistency between the beliefs of your heart and the belief of your deeds?
Be careful to make your faith real, not just in how it affects your thoughts and feelings, but also how it affects your neighbors. Faith is not a sentiment; it’s a lifestyle. How is your lifestyle?