“Without faith, it is impossible to please God…” (Hebrews 11:6)
Several days ago, I was in the kitchen whipping up a pot of pumpkin chili, (recipe included below!) while reflecting on some thoughts regarding faith.
Earlier in the day, when my daughter was sitting at the kitchen table working on her Catechism lesson, the subject of faith came up. My daughter wanted to know if everyone who believes in Jesus is a Christian.
Faith: More than Belief
I explained to her that “belief” alone is not what makes anyone a Christian in the sight of God; it’s what you do with that belief that demonstrates whether or not you truly possess faith in Christ.
Faith involves more than just believing in something that you cannot see. This is just the first part when it comes to believing in something. But genuine faith also involves action! Genuine faith requires us to do something about what we believe in.
You believe in a God unseen? So does the devil! But does he have saving faith? Of course not. Faith is what you do with your belief in God. The person who obeys God’s commandments is the one who has true faith.
I have faith that without food and water, my body will die. But is this “faith” alone enough to keep me alive? No. I must then act on my faith. I must make sure that I eat and drink and provide my body with the things that it needs in order to stay alive. If I refuse to do this, what good is my “faith?” Without action, I will die of starvation and dehydration.
In the same way, our obedience to God’s Word and those truths which He has revealed to us through the Catholic Church is what completes our faith in Him and proves it genuine. Our obedience is what turns mere faith into saving faith.
Long ago, Saint James wrote a letter to the followers of Jesus in order to teach them this very point. He wrote to them and said, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do….. Do you want proof that faith without deeds is useless? Remember how pleasing Abraham was to God when he obeyed God and prepared to offer his son Isaac on the altar? Abraham’s faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.”
Did Abraham believe in God? Yes. But his faith in God was proved genuine and made complete when he acted on his belief. God tested Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice his only son on an altar before the Lord. Abraham took his faith in God to the next level and acted on it. He put Isaac on the altar and got ready to sacrifice him before the Lord intervened. When Abraham did this, his faith was made complete; it was proved genuine.
It is this complete faith that is pleasing to God, not an incomplete faith that does not act on what it believes.
Love Moves Beyond Words
Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will obey Me.” Anyone can say, “I love Jesus,” but are they obeying Him? Our love for God must move beyond words. We must prove our love for Jesus by obeying Him. Anyone can say, “I believe in God,” but are they yielding their lives to Him? Are they surrendering their entire wills to Him? Are they obeying Him?
In his second letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul instructed the members of Christ’s Church as follows: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the Faith; test yourselves.”
Paul didn’t pass these instructions on to people who did not believe or were outside of the Church. He specifically gave these instructions to those men and women who “went to church” and professed to be in Christ. This says a lot about the necessity of remaining vigilant in our own lives to make sure that we don’t stumble into the trap of hypocrisy. Because of our fallen nature, it’s easy to get careless in our walk with Christ when it comes to obeying the Faith that we take the time to study and even teach to our children.
Do we spend a good 45 minutes teaching our children about the corporal works of mercy and then callously walk by a man outside the grocery store wrapped in a blanket and holding out a can without even dropping a penny into the can?
Let us listen to what the Spirit is saying to us through Jesus, James, and Paul when it comes to accompanying our profession of faith with action.
Our faith and our actions must work together if our faith is to be considered complete, acceptable, and pleasing in the sight of the Lord. Without faith, it is impossible to please God, but let us make sure that we understand what is meant by the word “faith.” Let us make sure that we understand what true faith is. Faith accompanied by action is genuine faith…
…but faith without deeds is dead.
This is a yummy pumpkin chili that I make as soon as fall arrives! Serve it with cornbread and salad, and you’ve got yourself one “Jim Dandy” of a meal!
3 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
2 cans (16 ounces each) chili beans, undrained
2 bottles (12 ounces each) chili sauce
2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) condensed tomato soup, undiluted
½ cup water
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
In a large Dutch oven, cook beef and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 1 hour.
Header Image CC Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism