All my recent musings about works and faith has led me to think about the various ways individual faith is evidenced. (Trust me, I’ll get back to the Letter of James soon. I just can’t pass up a good digression!)
As Cory mentioned during our Bible Study, Paul speaks highly of Timothy and especially Epaphroditus who risked his life to maintain communication between Paul and the Philippian church. And James – who so often takes a beating over his stance on works – reminds readers that Abraham’s willingness to outwardly act on his faith serves as a testimony to the completeness of his faith.
Isaiah, on the other hand, describes a negative example of what faithful actions can become when we lose sight of why we act. In Isaiah’s vision, the Lord has lost all patience with the Israelites and their empty rituals. What good are animal sacrifices and incense burning when the only reason you do it is so God will bless you?
Doing those things that God loves isn’t about self-benefit. Rather, it’s about being so filled with holy love our “cup runneth over.” Sometimes, our cup overflowing looks like silent praise to God during private prayer. Sometimes, our cup overflows to hospitals, to those in poverty, or to friends undergoing hardship. Our cup can also overflow to those celebrating a marriage or welcoming a new child.
Our cups overflow in a myriad of ways, and in multiple directions. We spend a good deal of our time trying to identify the way that fits us and our particular talents the best. What’s my purpose? How do I reflect the love of Christ? The answer is different for everyone. For instance, I’m not going to sing, produce, and publish a Christian album because singing is definitely not my spiritual gift. (You’ll just have to take my word on that!) On the other hand, researching and writing a blog… that speaks a bit more to my strengths!
No matter what we choose to do, the point is to continually remind ourselves of our motivation for doing it. The Israelites forgot their primary motivation, and good things turned into empty things. I don’t read the Bible and write about it because I expect something in return. I do it because God fills my cup so full… it overflows. God does that. I’m just guiding the overflow in this direction!
Think about how God fills your cup… and how you can best share the excess. And in all those things, to God be the glory.
Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated unto you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and the welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)