You’ve probably heard the parrots say “Faith without works is dead”. Heard that one? Well, hold the pitch on the next rock chuckles because I’m gonna hit this one out of the park (YES! A BASEBALL ANALOGY!!!). Works without faith is dead before you start.
How hard do you work for God? For Jesus? In their name? Can you tell when you’e working for them from when you’re working for you?
When I work for me I get burned out very quickly. The work I put me to isn’t refreshing. It’s not a blessing. There’s no real joy in it. Not only do I get tired, I get to feeling bone-gnawing frustration that it’s worthless. I get that feeling long before I’m consciously aware of it and I get grumpy. There’s a hint about me, and a bunch of other people: If they’re generally grumpy, there’s a good chance they’re frustrated.
And why do I get frustrated? The Spirit in me is trying to tell me something. The Life in me that I’m not letting live is struggling to warn me and to get my attention. I wish I could tell you how many times I’ve smelled smoke and waited for the diagnosis-of-calamity before treating the source of the problem. The source of the problem has already been mentioned several times here.
“I” :14 times.
“Me”: 8 times.
And there is the crux of the problem. Let’s see what my (9 times) problem is in the Word.
In your spare time, read Ecclesiastes chs. 1 & 2. I’m sure King Solomon won’t mind you reading his personal journal. But let’s start with just a few verses. Just a few after that. And after that.
All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun. So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is futility and striving after wind. Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity.
(Ecclesiastes 2:10,11,17-19 NASB)
According to God’s grace that was given to me, as a skilled master builder I have laid a foundation, and another builds on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it, because no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid–that is, Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, each one’s work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire.
(1 Corinthians 3:10-15 HCSB)
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’
(Matthew 7:21-22 HCSB)
The people asked Jesus, “What does God want us to do?” Jesus answered, “The work God wants you to do is this: to believe in the one he sent.”
(John 6:28-29 ERV)
Straight out of the mouth of the Savior, the only work that counts is that we believe in the Christ Jesus. Everything else we do follows following Him. This is such basic stuff but for years I’ve seen so much work done just for the sake of having something to do for Jesus. The need to serve others should be in every Christian’s life, yes. But if our motivation isn’t simply letting Jesus live his life in us, life-ing out his life with our hands and feet and mouths and minds and all the other bits and parts, it is vain conceit that it it worth anything.
In James, chapter two is where a lot of working-class get their justification. They reason that actions prove faith. The reasoning of reality is that if there’s real faith, the actions happen by the hands and feet of Christ alone. Remember Galatians 2:20? I am crucified with Jesus. I am dead and haven’t fallen over yet. What life is in this body is lived by faith alone in the Son of God who loves me and gave up Himself for me (My paraphrase). And sometimes our deadness does try to take over, don’t it?
The glorious catch here is that God will be glorified in everything, no matter what.
It is up to each of us to examine the things we do and why we do them. If we’re worn out, burned out, frustrated frazzled Christians it’s time to take a break and take inventory and find out our motives.