Three small “scholars” are buckled into my back seat, blue eyes peering at me from beneath straw hats and a bonnet. They are the oldest of my Amish neighbor’s seven children. Our five-mile drive to their country school is quiet, my passengers answering questions in a whisper, smiling shyly at my image in the rear-view mirror. I tune in to a Christian music station, hoping they don’t mind.
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.
Today’s trip is my way of making good on a promised favor. The Mama of this brood has her hands full with four more little ones at home. It feels good to be able to give without expecting to receive, to put feet (or in this case, wheels) to my intentions, making life a little easier for my friend.
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.
I pull into the schoolyard and it’s then I notice the three pairs of bare feet climbing out of my car. I smile. To spend the day learning and playing in bare feet must be heavenly. And I think of their mother, whose best helpers are away at school while she labors with her little ones. We know very little about one another, Elizabeth and I. She hurries to greet me when I stop to buy her eggs, deftly fills a container with her Jersey cow’s fresh milk and refuses payment.
You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless?
She knows as well as I the story of Abraham’s faithfulness, this man who is called righteous for laying his son Isaac on the altar. We wear our faith in different colors. Hers in brown and grey and green, the colors of the earth. Mine, blue and turquoise, colors from sky and water. But we make the same offerings, our small deeds, our belief we hope is counted for righteousness.
You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. (James 2:16-24)
An apple pie and a fresh-picked watermelon rest in the spot where faith and deeds became righteousness. A shared faith that today is complete.
Five quick minutes (more or less) to spill out words inspired by one word, in this case the word “complete”. Every Friday, we send our words into the “blogosphere” hoping someone will take a moment (or five) to read. Thank you for doing that today. For more essays on this one word, click over to Five Minute Friday, and enjoy.