Bard Letsinger is a friend of mine, whom I served with at Parkway Church. Over the last year Bard and his wife Mollie have been really learning what it means to surrender as they prepare to "plant" a new church. I've asked Bard if he would share his thoughts on the book of James with us on a regular basis. Enjoy!
About six years ago for Christmas my father gave me a knife set to use while hunting. Growing up with a ranch in South Texas makes hunting deer a way of life and an activity I look forward to every fall. It was an expensive set with various specialized blades, axes, saws and tools, everything you needed for cleaning a deer. It was a wonderful gift, one I could definitely use, and one that anyone who saw it sitting in my truck would immediately know I was a hunter. When I received the gift however I had already taken two deer for that season and did not see myself using it any time soon. I took it and put it away in the closet behind some of my other hunting gear with the intention of using it the next hunting season.
The next deer season came and I forgot to take the gift, still tucked away in the back of the closet, to the ranch. I wound up having borrowing my father's knives a couple of times. When I did he would ask "where's the gift I gave you last Christmas". The next deer season the same thing happened. The season after that I did not get anything and never had need for the gift. After a few years I completely forgot about gift, until this past fall I rediscovered it the closet behind a jacket.
Sometimes we treat our faith the same way.
When by faith we receive the wonderful gift of salvation we are so excited. It is special, just like a great gift on Christmas morning. But like my knife set we can take our faith and put it on a shelf in a closet in the back of our mind and never put it to work in our day to day lives. That is a foolish thing to do.
James 20-22 says "But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected;"
The knife set was a gift given to me that was always in my possession, but I was getting no benefit from it because I was not using it. But just because I was not using it my father did not come and take from me. It is the same with our faith. If we do not use our faith our Heavenly Father will not take away the gift of salvation. However, unless we use it not only will we not receive any benefit from it in this life but we are missing a great opportunity for others to see God work through us, just like He did with Abraham.
This hunting season I remembered to take the knife set my father gave me to the ranch. I did not have an opportunity to use it, got skunked again this year, but at least I was ready. Are you ready to use your faith today? Or are you going to keep it under your jacket in the back of your closet? The choice is yours.