What good is it my brothers if a man claims to have faith, but has no deeds? James 2:14
There is an ongoing discussion among friends as to the wisdom of works/deeds--busyness, activity. Sometimes this discussion is about balance, sometimes about wisdom, sometimes about priorities, sometimes about pride or guilt or exhaustion. Always there is a measuring scale: doing too much, not doing enough. What is right? Where do I go wrong?
The one thing that is clear to me, I am to be active. Not just a flurry of activity (dusting light bulbs) but active, as in--wait for it--not passive.
James makes this point simply, faith without deeds (ergon: enterprise, a product of one's hands, something accomplished) is of little value.
There is a connection between what I do and what I believe (faith/pistis--a firm conviction of truth). Do I make that connection in my approach to what I do?
I wonder what Christ's opinion is on what I do with what I have? Would he consider the way I spend my time wise, frenzied, selfish, generous, petty, focused on others or focused on myself?
Turn James' instruction around: deeds without faith is of no value. The Message translates it more bluntly: Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything?
If doing, and believing are connecting to get me somewhere, well then where? What am I traveling toward, the destination for the path of ergon?
I think the purpose is that what I do should be marked by who I am, what I believe. Whether that is tending to dusty light bulbs or tending to two daughters in my charge or tending to the needs of my church, or another church (gasp) or a neighbor or the local PTA or an orphanage in Africa or at a neighborhood swim meet or at a job. Big, small, secular, faith based: these are secondary concerns--primarily, am I active and in my activity is my faith obvious?
I think Philip Yancey describes the destination of deeds well in changing motivations: "Previously my main motivation in life was to do a painting of myself, filled with bright colors and profound insights so that all who looked upon it would be impressed. Now, however I find that my role is to be a mirror to brightly reflect the image of God through me. Or perhaps the metaphor of stained glass would serve better, for after all, God will illumine though my personality and body." excerpt from Open Windows