Real Faith is More Than What You Feel

“A brother or sister in Christ might need clothes or food. If you say to that person, ‘God be with you! I hope you stay warm and get plenty to eat,’ but you do not give what that person needs, your words are worth nothing. In the same way, faith by itself—that does nothing—is dead.”

James 2:15-17 (NCV)

Right now it’s estimated that over 40 million people in the United States are unemployed. Some of them need food. Some of them are wondering how they’ll pay their rent or mortgage. And they need to know that they’re not forgotten, that they can count on others for support.

It’s not enough to just tell them how sorry we are for their circumstances. Or to send out a tweet with a pious cliché.

Empathy isn’t enough. They need real help.

James says real faith is more than well wishes. Imagine if you walked up to someone in a food line and said, “Hey, I feel for you. Hang in there. Cheer up. Don’t worry, be happy.” Doesn’t that ring hollow in such desperate circumstances? They don’t just need your words; they need food.

Genuine faith is practical. It gets involved in people’s needs.

Jesus demonstrated this kind of faith. He didn’t just empathize with our pain and predicament. He came to earth to do something about the sin that separated us from God.

1 John 3:17 says, “Suppose someone has enough to live and sees a brother or sister in need, but does not help. Then God’s love is not living in that person” (NCV).

Your response to the pain of the people in your community will show the world what you believe. For instance, at Saddleback Church, we’ve launched drive-thru food pantries. With just one of those we were able to feed 840 families in one day. Your church may already be doing something similar but imagine what would happen if every congregation did this right now.

Genuine faith produces compassion. It says, “I will help you with your burden and show you the love of Christ.” Our faith is seen by what we do.

Talk It Over

  • Are you in need right now? Reach out to your local church and ask what support they can offer.
  • What are some practical ways (or additional ways) you, your small group, or your church can help hurting people right now? For instance, can you help pay someone’s bills? Can you assist the elderly or those in quarantine who are unable to go to the grocery store? How about helping someone with childcare or supporting a small business trying to recover from being closed?
  • Because the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us into isolation, many people are struggling with anxiety, depression, and grief. Substance abuse is another common problem. What are ways you, your small group, or congregation can offer emotional support or mental health resources to those in need? (Visit Kay Warren’s website to find practical resources related to mental health, including videos, support groups, tools, and downloadable shareables.)
  • At Saddleback Church, we offer career coaching workshops that help prepare people looking for jobs or trying to transfer to different careers. What are some other ways you can help people get back on their feet? How can you identify potential employers within the congregation, or the community, who have jobs available?

Give hope, prayer, and encouragement below. Post a comment & talk about it.