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.
There’s no doubt Christ calls us to a different kind of love than what we’d be comfortable giving. After all, it’s so much easier to see someone in their pain and anguish, offer a short prayer or ‘encouragement’, and go on our merry way. It’s far too much effort for some to extend the arm of grace.
In light of this, I want to share a story with you:
“Recently I shared with some friends about a particular hardship I was going through. I was nervous the entire day, leading right up to the point when all eyes were on me as I began to reveal my heart to the people I cared about most.
I expressed that I had been feeling great fear, shame and pain surrounding the subject, and that it was difficult for me to talk about. That this was an ongoing issue, and I needed help.
In the end though, I managed to get the words out – despite how vulnerable and humble it made me. I was met with some smiles and nods, and a couple of thank you’s for sharing.
Afterwards, one person asked me about it, wanting to know how I was really going. ONE. In the entire group.
I had just done something that was mentally, physically and emotionally so difficult and draining for me, because being genuine with those I love is the sort of person I am, and I believed they, being brothers and sisters in Christ, would care, as they had done for others in the group before.
To say I was disappointed is a massive understatement. I can’t believe I trusted them to see me in my pain and offer more than a mere ‘thanks for sharing’ – is it me? Am I selfish?
And what now? Well, I just go back to suffering – alone, apparently.
Let me give you a different example; and maybe this will help to highlight why I’m angry.
Say my group of friends and I were walking along, all hunky dory – when suddenly, I fall and break my leg. I’m in a lot of pain, and can no longer walk by myself; I need their help.
I call out to them, humiliated and broken; they turn back, smile and say, “cool, thanks for sharing!”… And keep on walking.
I feel heartbroken, and absolutely devastated.”
Stories like this shouldn’t happen – particularly among Christians. When someone has fallen ill, you don’t ‘thank’ them for sharing their pain with you, and then do nothing. You may as well say ‘screw you!’ and slap them in the face. It’ll hurt just as much.”
No. Here’s what you do, if you’re a Christ-imitating Christian.
You ask specifically what you can pray about for them, and then you follow up with them – because you care.
You ask if there’s anything you can do to help – because you’re a genuine friend.
You ask questions like, “what has God been teaching you?”, because you care about their spiritual welfare during trials.
You take the initiative to listen, visit, share, encourage, and do all you can to help that broken person heal – because you want to love like Christ.
Don’t be a lip-service Christian. Love like you mean it.