For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
(James 2:26, CSB)
Friend to Friend
Are you in a season of your work and life being re-defined?
If you’re reading this in the wake of the Coronavirus Pandemic that swept our world, my guess is that your answer is “yes.”
We’ve had our “normal” rocked. As I confessed in my last devotion, I struggle to not choose work over everything else, especially relationships. Nothing like experiencing stay-at-home orders to make that tendency all the more evident. How do I balance work with family? How do I walk in faith but steward my responsibilities well?
Maybe your work right now isn’t only your paid job but staying on top of the household needs or getting creative in supporting the ministry you volunteer for that’s struggling with a lack of resources Maybe you’re looking for another job as you’ve been laid off. Maybe your work is homeschooling your children when that was never on the radar.
Whatever your work looks like, the tension is there during times of crisis, especially for those of us who find a sense of security in “the process” to the neglect of the “relationships.”
If that is you, like it is for me, there is hope for us as we turn to James 2. The infamous passage on faith and works offers a perspective on how to balance both faith and works, especially as we consider the nuances of “process” and “relationship.”
James compares faith and works to a body that needs clothing, shelter, and food, but is only given the encouragement to “Go in peace, eat well, and stay warm” (James 2:14-17). That’s pointless! You need both the “good word” and provisional needs, right?
The word “work” comes from the Greek, “ergon,” which means “(1) business, employment, that which anyone is occupied; that which one undertakes to do, enterprise, undertaking; (2) any product whatever, anything accomplished by hand, art, industry, or mind; (3) an act, deed, thing done: the idea of working is emphasized in opp. to that which is less than work” (Blueletterbible.org). I don’t know about you, but that definition covers all the things I can get caught up in “process” about – both my paid work as well as the tasks I must do and even the ones I want to do.
It’s safe to say that God sees our work and has a made a place for it. But that’s not all. There’s also a place for relationships as we look at how James describes Abraham and Rahab.
So, the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend. You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead. James 2:20-26 CSB
Abraham and Rahab both walked by faith IN their works. Abraham was even called a friend of God for doing so. Imagine . . . God saying to you, “Friend, I see your work and your faith. I see your responsibilities and relationships. I am with you in it.”
God chooses those He is in relationship with to do His work by faith!
Yes, He is a God of both/and. Both faith and works. Both relationship and process. One doesn’t preclude the other.
Together, is where we find the sweet spot, not only during a pandemic but in the new normal of our lives.
So, by faith, sister, set forth on your divinely appointed work while also caring deeply for the relationships He’s placed in your life, clinging to the greatest friendship of all – the one you have with God.
Dear Lord, thank You for giving us the opportunity to walk in both faith and works. Thank You, Lord, that You don’t require us to choose, but want to see a beautiful integration of both in our lives. We ask You for Your grace and leading as we seek to balance both faith and works as well as “process” and relationships. Fill us with the Holy Spirit in a fresh way that we may be sensitive to the needs of those You’ve called us to be in relationship with while we also embrace the work, by faith, that You’ve placed in our lives.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
What is your tendency – to choose work over relationship, or relationship over work? How can you navigate both by faith?
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Elisa Pulliam is a coach, author, podcaster, speaker, and founder of More to Be. She is passionate about helping women pursue a fresh encounter with God and align with His Word as well as equipping women to become mentors and coaches. Her resource, Align Life Strategy Workbook, will help you discover how to align your life with God’s best. She delights in being Stephen’s wife for 23 years, mom of four treasures, and the opportunity to mentor girls while working with horses as she volunteers at her friend’s farm. Connect with Elisa at MoretoBe.com.