James 2:15-17 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.
Yesterday I was taught a valuable lesson about faith in action by my four-year-old. I ran into the grocery store, leaving my kids in the car with my sister – and on my way out noticed a Salvation Army bell-ringer. I haven’t seen one all season…at the malls, grocery stores etc…not a single one. I decided to seize the opportunity to teach my daughter a life lesson about generosity and giving to those less fortunate. Or so I thought. In actuality, God was going to show me something about belief and actions to back it up.
I got back to the car and started digging around in my purse for a couple of dollar bills. I asked Madison if she would like to come with me to put the money in the bucket. She resisted, unsure of the man ringing the bell and enjoying the warmth of the car. I knelt down in front of her and explained that the man with the bell was collecting money for little boys and girls whose parents couldn’t get them any presents for Christmas. That if we didn’t put the money in the bucket – those boys and girls would be very sad on Christmas morning. I reminded her of the beautiful tree at our house with gifts beneath it and that she was very blessed to have all those nice things, and wouldn’t it be loving to share that with others? He face brightened with a smile as she jumped out of her seat and said “Ok! Yes! I want to give them the dollars!”.
As I lifted my daughter out of the car, she spotted the wad of 20′s in my purse. She reached for it, exclaiming “Mommy! Let’s give them ALL the money!”. So sincere was her desire to bless those children, so strong was her belief that if she didn’t do everything she could, they would go without – it only made sense to give everything we had. I wish I could tell you that I gathered up all the cash and allowed Maddie to donate it, and maybe that’s what I should have done. But my logical mind trying to make ends meet and pay bills on one income just didn’t allow me the freedom to do so. Perhaps I missed a HUGE parenting opportunity there, I don’t know. Although I did let Madison find every dollar bill I had, there was something in my heart that felt saddened by my unwillingness to back up my words with actions. That my generosity didn’t match hers. God used that unrest to teach me a valuable lesson.
Often I say I believe something, but my daily life doesn’t back it up. And just like this verse says, faith without action is dead. In Madison’s innocent child’s faith – her belief was reflected in her actions. How many times do I say to a person in need “I’ll be praying for you” or “Let me know what I can do to help”…but do I follow-up? Do I put myself out there and actually do anything about it? Not often enough. I want God to create in me a heart for those around me. A faith that is bolstered by my deeds. To live my life with integrity, believing what I say to a point that influences my daily decisions. I guess really what I’m saying is that when God helps me grow up in this area, I want to be just like my Maddie-girl.