I’m an expert seamstress.
I was in the 4-H clothing project for seven years. I once did a demonstration on how to read a pattern. I can tell you all about how to finish a seam, about bound buttonholes, set in sleeves, and how to thread a sewing machine. I have a sewing box full of thread, needles, hem gauges, measuring tapes, scissors and pin cushions. Why, as a home ec major in college, I took classes in clothing construction, textiles and interior design. I even went on a college fashion merchandizing tour to Los Angeles. Yes, I am a –
Uh huh. Expert seamstress. Right.
The author in the book of James tells his readers, “Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says (James 1:22).” Later he adds that faith without works is dead (2:17). Telling a needy person you hope life gets better says nothing about your faith, says James. That needy person will be far more likely to accept what you say about Jesus if you put muscle behind your words and help him out, showing that you have the faith that God will take care of you when you reach out to someone else.
Just as my simply telling you what I know about sewing doesn’t prove that I can sew, simply saying we believe in Jesus doesn’t mean a thing. It’s useless, good for nothing. I could have the entire Bible memorized, know church history backward and forward, argue with the best of biblical scholars, and attend Women of Faith conferences so often, they offer me frequent flyer mileage. But if I’m not willing to live out my faith by acting in ways that show I’m trusting God for my future like Abraham and Rahab did (2:21-26) and by doing loving, grace-filled acts for those I connect with every day (James 1:27; 2:8), then my faith is about as unimpressive as an unused vintage sewing pattern or a box of sewing tools still in their original wrappers. If I make life choices based on what I read in the Bible, do forgiving and kind acts to those less fortunate or undeserving and respond with hope and peace to life circumstances, those around me will be a lot more convinced of my faith in Jesus Christ.