James 2:17-18 (NLT) So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
Balance is a place that I strive for and tend to fall short. I feel like I am always busy…too busy. Looking back over my life of more than fifty years, I see the places where unimportant tasks and trivial duties took the place of time better spent in different ways. Wisdom is the product of applying new knowledge and greater understanding in life. This is not easy to come by and therefore the Word of God describes it as worth more than precious metals and stones. Time stops for no one. Each tick of the clock is a second of our life that is gone forever now becoming history. Did I use it well? Do I have regrets? Do I wish I did things differently? We all have moments and seasons wasted on lesser things – immediate gratification is highly promoted in the world in which we live. Supply and demand is the current that overtakes us. The very thing purchased yesterday at such a great price depreciates in our hands the moment it is marked “sold”. My desire is balance. I am tired of being distracted with busyness. I am motivated. I am a hard worker. I am disciplined in many areas of life. It comes with age and experience for most. I have fallen many times. I have failed more than I have succeeded. However, in my heart today, I believe that the overwhelming overcoming faith that I am after will be achieved in this place called balance. The rest entered in by those who choose to be faithful and fruitful. It is an intentional place of trusting God enough to rest in our duties of life and pursue His Kingdom passionately. Not by putting our work ethic and tendencies into the production called church – but to become one with His Presence as His Body the church.
Faith is essential in our life. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Faith is not only a noun, but its precipitation is a verb. We must produce good deeds from our faith. Trusting God is the definition of active faith. It gives us confidence that just because our activities do not prosper in our hands that it causes our soul and heart to flourish with the Goodness of God. The Holy Spirit does not produce tangible fruit in our heart to nourish our natural body – instead He produces the kind of fruit that prospers our soul instead. When our soul begins to prosper in God – our life will too. Not because of my works but by the faith and trust in God that allows me to release the worries and cares of this life to find rest in His Presence and share the Glory of His Kingdom.
“I will show you my faith by my good deeds.” Many people take this and turns it into I have to “work” for God in the sense of filling their schedule with work and church all the time. This is not the case at all. I will show you my faith by my good deeds. Let’s take a moment for an attitude check. How’s your attitude? Is your attitude like a gloriously delivered fruit basket filled with all the offerings of the Holy Spirit? Do people leave encouraged at speaking to you? Do they want what you have? Or run like it might be contagious? What about your activity? Busyness is an excuse given by those who have misspent their time and now have regrets. Everyone has the same amount of time in any given day. It is up to me how I use the 24 hours, 1440 minutes, and 86,400 seconds in a single day. If I am not satisfied and content, it is my own fault. Whom the Son sets free is free indeed. I am the master of my life. I choose where I plant it, what I cultivate in it, and the harvest from it. God has given me the seed. I must sow it. The problem is that I cannot decide where to plant, what to sow, or when to wait for the harvest. My faith is not demonstrated in my ability to work hard, be disciplined or even in earthly success. My faith is only evident when I trust the Lord no matter my condition, circumstance or situation. It is the steadfast, confident hope that no matter what Jesus is enough.
James 2:21-22 (NLT) Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete.
Faith when planted properly should cause our natural life and spiritual life to become one. We achieve balance in our life by faith in God that permeates every area of it. Diversified living creates a divided heart given to too many things and mastering none. The consummation of the holy inhabitation of the Spirit in my life should be evident in every attitude and action that I take. My works should be evident of my relationship to Jesus Christ. Everything I do should resonate absolute and total trust that God is my Father who provides and protects me. My actions complete my faith. My actions will change only if the knowledge that I live by becomes wisdom found in God’s Word, His Will and His Way. Jesus Christ is the Word of God wrapped in flesh who came as a Living Love Letter from God inviting me home. He promises all that belongs to Him will be my inheritance if I just come back to Him. This must be a wholehearted endeavor. God has big plans for my life. He offers good, future and hope. They are mind for the asking. I will have them if only I seek Him with my whole heart by faith and learning to trust Him more. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
Luke 10:38-42 (NLT) As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
I will be the first to admit that I identify completely with Martha. I understand what motivates her and just how she ticks. I am task oriented and responsibility driven. I used to think if I didn’t do it that it wasn’t going to get done. I used to judge those who weren’t busy, stressed out and overloaded thinking them of lazy and unmotivated. It took a tragic turn in life for me to understand that my existence is not necessary to the world in which I live. It will keep going whether I am here or not. Time stops for no one.
When our son was diagnosed with cancer, an elaborate schedule to alternate his care among family. It would be three months of every day treatment. I couldn’t leave my job. I had a career. I was responsible for three departments. It was our busiest time of the year. They needed me. You may want to avert your eyes because my pride is showing as I tell you of what a self-absorbed person I had become. How could I just stop working for three months? For two weeks, I wrestled to incorporate taking care of our son with my job thinking that is what any responsible employee would do. Or so I thought… when my son got out of the car at the hospital after two weeks of packing up his things and withdrawing from school – I believe that the Lord removed the veil from my eyes. I could see the shadow of death surrounding our son. Everything changed in that single moment. I called my boss that very moment. I am sorry I cannot leave my child. I am going to stand by him. I am sorry and I will do what I can to help long distance but this is where I need to be, I hope you understand. My passion and drive to succeed came colliding with the reality of death in a moment. Not just that which loomed so near, but the fact that tomorrow is not promised and I was wasting precious time. When our battle was over and our son rallied in the victory of remission, I ended up leaving my former career to take a much more laid back position. Work doesn’t come home with me any longer. It does not lay a trap of busyness. I work. I live. I play. I worship in all three because my heart and mind are finally free. What has you all tensed up? What steals precious moments from your family or even the Lord? Hey Martha, I think the Lord is calling to you – what will your heart say?
Psalm 27:8 (NLT) My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
Balance can only be achieved by proper prioritization. There is no doubt that God wants us to be hard workers. In fact, many passages in Proverbs point to the many benefits of hard work. Such as monetary wealthy (10:4, 13:11); plentiful provision (12:11, 28:19); rewards (12:14); promotion (12:24); and prosperity (13:4, 21:5). All these things can be produced by being a hard worker. If we apply the simple truths of the Bible to our lives, we will prosper in our natural life. However, to prosper in our soul requires balancing our life of work with our life of worship. When busyness overtakes us the balance is interrupted. The demands of this world creates distractions and diversions that derail faith in exchange for pride quickly and without warning. We adopt the mentality “if I don’t do it, who will?” God says, “I will because I AM.”
Ecclesiastes 3:11-12 (NLT) Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.
The place of busyness that produces good things in life is also the point when life begins to feel meaningless. Busyness makes us feel vital and purposeful but if the things we do with our hands is not reminiscent of the Jesus who lives in our heart. They will quickly be overtaken. (Matthew 6:19-21) Don’t get all holier-than-thou on me either. Christians are the worst. We profess to believe by grace we are saved and then kill ourselves serving in the local church. The program and production of church becomes overtaken by pride. It inhibits worship. It allows religiosity to choke out new growth. We must find the balance of Spirit and Truth to connect with the eternity in our heart in order to achieve godly purpose that leads to total and complete fulfillment and satisfaction in Jesus Christ. This is the point when I begin to decrease and He increases in and through my life. When I no longer care about the packing out the moments of my life but connecting with the Lord in each moment.
The work of my hands alone cannot produce the life God has promised me. I must seek Him wholeheartedly or else risk finding no meaning in living. No matter how successfully I become working, it is meaningless if Jesus Christ is not the very essence in all things. (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19) I can work hard my whole life. I can build a good inheritance for our kids. Everything that I acquire will belong to someone else the day that I die. (Ecclesiastes 2:21-24) Every good thing have is a Gift from God. I must always remember that. Nothing I do will every produce His Goodness, Grace or Glory in my life. It is His Gift to me no matter how unworthy I may feel and there is nothing that I can do to earn it. The only thing I have of worth is eternity. Will it be enough to prosper with God in His Kingdom? Will the seeds I plant in life yield a harvest of believers? See the fruit of my life will not be evaluated by stuff even that which I generously give away. It will be amount of faith that I have when I meet the Lord. Will it be enough?
John 21:6-8 (NLT) Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore.
His invitation so simple. Come and follow me. He met them right where they were. They stopped fishing left their careers, homes and families to follow Jesus. However, through the course of His Ministry it became clear that they really did not have a clear perspective on all that it meant. Peter was passionate and impulsive. Always the first jump in and the first who wanted back out. He fumbled with this thing called faith and exactly what it meant. He even went so far to deny the Messiah just the day before that he had promised to die for. So feeling defeated and deeming all a failure, he went back to his career. However, although his life looked the same, his heart had change. Faith had been planted and cultivated in Him. His pride crucified with Christ. All Peter wanted was Jesus. When the Lord showed up on the beach that day, his man was ready and knew exactly what to do. He jumped over the boat and swam to Jesus. He didn’t care about the net-breaking wealthy haul of fish that would supply his earthly need. He knew Jesus was all that he needed and would not be stopped making his way to the Lord. I believe that through the trials, temptations, tests, and even tragedies in life – the Lord uses them to remove those things that keep us from the rich, satisfying life that He died for us to have. It doesn’t look like worldly success. It does not come with the pressure but peace found in the Presence of God. It doesn’t require us to always be so busy. It means knowing when to stop and rest. It recognizes the still, small voice when He calls and responds immediately. There is no distance too far when it is Jesus who we are after. There is no other thing in this world that gives us fulfillment other than faith. Faith is worthless until it is completed by Christ. We plant it, others water it, but only God can increase it in our heart so it overtakes every other attitude and action in life.
It is time to inspect the nets of our life like any good fishermen would. The things that clog our net keep the fisher from being captured. We are to be fishers of men. If our life is stressed out, filled with fear, doubt and anxiety it will be all men for themselves. That is not the life you are called to. You have the Mind of Jesus Christ. He has given you the power to overcome. You are more than a conqueror in Jesus Christ. Fear robs us of such things. Faith binds them to every detail of our life. It is time to check out to-do list and mark some things off. It is time to reprioritize it. Number one must always be time spent with Jesus. Don’t let busyness disrupt the balance of your life. Set your plumb line to vertical and build your foundation of faith around it. Prosperity begins in the soul and overflows in our life.
3 John 2 (NKJV) Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.