Hearing, Believing, and Doing

Whoever has ears, let them hear…                                                                                                          Matthew 11:15

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 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? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.                                                                                James 2:14-19

I recently read a book titled Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus. In this book, the author is trying to get the reader in mind of how Jesus taught and thought, and how those who heard him may have received his teachings. 

One of the explanations the author used was that of the Hebrew language. It had a vocabulary of about 80,000 words. Compare that to the English language which has perhaps 400,000 words. Hebrews were used to having a rich and elaborate meaning to their words since they did not parse them out as freely as English-speaking people might. There may be several different associated concepts with one word in the Hebrew language.

When Jesus, for example, used the word “hear”, that meant that the hearer would not only hear the word, but believe it as well. Further, if one believed a concept, they were expected to act upon it as truth. In other words, hearing, believing, and doing were all tied together. If you hear your master tell you something, and believe it, the expectation is that one would act upon that belief.

I find it interesting in Western Christianity, we have somehow been able to separate belief from actions. Somehow, just holding onto a belief can be divorced from actions, causing some to fail to truly live out their faith. For them, holding a belief in the mind becomes paramount over acting out that faith for others to see.

James talked about the kind of faith that works- that is, the kind that other people can see and experience.

Prayer: Lord, help us to be doers of the word, not just hearers, Amen

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