A Better Game
You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? (James 2:19-20, ESV)
“Golf is such a mental game.” I hear this from amateurs of all skill levels often. Many of you may be nodding your heads up and down in agreement. But is it really a mental game? If you believe you can hit a high draw to a back left pin from 150 yards but have never practiced how to hit such a shot, then I would propose it is not going to happen—no matter how much you believe. Golf becomes “90 percent mental” after you have done the work developing the skills.
Our belief in God is no different. Written from a practical posture, the letter of James tells us that to merely believe in God does not distinguish us as his followers. Our faith can’t be a mental belief with no action behind it, because even the demons believe. Now this is true: We can neither earn nor lose the unconditional love of God. Yet our faith must do something, lest it be found “useless.”
The Greek word for believe is pisteuo. It means to have faith, to entrust—particularly one’s spiritual well-being to Christ. Entrusting our well-being to Christ is the first and most important action step. We then practice our faith by pursuing a life of holiness that produces authentic deeds or fruit. We can’t just stand on the practice tee, take a couple swings, and expect we have mastered our faith, so to speak. A faith that produces real life change takes time and effort.
I hate to break this news, but unless you’re a professional golfer, golf is just a game to be played for fun. And if you would like to improve your mental focus, then first spend the time putting the work in on the practice range.
Your faith, on the other hand, has the potential to change the world around you. Don’t you want to know what living your faith with action looks like?
I invite you to think deeper and broader than the normal checklist of reading your Bible and setting aside time to pray. How can you be a “doer of the word” (James 1:25)? Are the people you play golf, work, or do life with witnessing your belief in action?
James gives us some practical examples of faith in action:
– Faith endures in the midst of trials
– Faith asks God for wisdom
– Faith bridles the tongue
– Faith sets aside wickedness
– Faith cares for the least of these (orphans, widows)
– Faith does not play favorites
– Faith gives kindness and compassion
We will hit the ball out of bounds (stumble in life), probably every day. The good news is that because of Jesus, we get to try again and again and again. Keep practicing, because faith is the activeresponse to how God’s love for you has changed your life.
February 8, 2018
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