This morning as I was reading my devotional, which I still struggle to do consistently and with a full heart, I read something that Rick Warren wrote that stood out to me.
Faith is more than something you just feel. Many people confuse emotions and feelings with faith. They come to church and they are moved emotionally, they’re inspired, and they’re stimulated. They get a quiver in their liver and say, “Oh, man! I’m moved!”
And they go out after the service and maybe they even cried a little or felt God’s presence. But just because you feel God’s presence, doesn’t mean you have real faith. There’s a big difference between faith and feeling.
James says faith is not mere sentimentality. You go out on the street and you see some homeless person who’s destitute. They’re poor, they’re hungry, they’re cold, and they need clothing and shelter. And you walk up to them and say, “Well, I’ll pray for you.”
That’s not faith. Faith is compassionate. How many times did Jesus say, or it was said about him, “He was moved with compassion for people.” Faith is practical. It gets involved in people’s hurts. And when you see a need, you do something about it. That’s real faith.
And the corresponding verse that he draws from is from James 2:15-16 NIV: “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. “If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”
The homeless situation sticks to me the most. I care about the homeless. I have a heart for them. Some people don’t. I get it. But for me, I’ve hung out with them before and I get their situation. That doesn’t make me a saint though. Every time I pass by them, I normally never give them any money. It’s not that I don’t care, but it’s just because I have to be smart about it too. I have to make sure that the money is being used right.
A lot of it is timing too. If I wasn’t trying to get somewhere, I would absolutely spend more time, maybe offer some money or even talk to them. But that’s not the case. But I’ve seen people, sometimes even friends, use the word “I’ll pray for you” or “If it’s God’s will” to weasel out of situations. I know praying and relying on God is good, but it’s still seems like a cop out.
Faith is useless without action. Without action, then is there really faith? How much do we believe that we can truly go out and trust God that our actions will be fruitful? Do we avoid confrontation and just let faith take care of the rest?
I think the problem here, and this has happened to me before, is that my faith was running on empty. If I don’t get fed, or if I don’t refueld myself with God, I act faithless. I may sound like I have faith and believe, but my words are empty. It’s dressing on the salad talk, but it’s not fruitful. How many times have we copped out of really being faithful by avoiding things?
Running on empty is terrible. I’ve been there. Especially as a leader, people see it and it’s just not healthy. I pray that we can continue to be filled and go full speed. Instead of just saying we have faith, let’s actually show we have faith. I can say I care, but who’s going to believe me? If I show I care, then it not only brings me up, but it brings others up. And most importantly, it’s a thank you to God telling the Father that I believe in Him.