Tip of the Spear
“What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?”
~ James 2:14 (NLT)
If faith without works is dead, I wonder what good works without faith is.
I have a long-time friend who is a great servant. I call her a “Super Do Gooder” because she is over the top when it comes to helping others. I believe she is saved, but her faith is not apparent in what she does. What happens when we do works with no sign of Christ in the midst? Certainly, there is worldly good that happens, benefiting the recipients today. But, “Can that kind of works save anyone?”
Imagine a spear without a pointed tip. Thrown, it can have some impact, but the target will get away with its life. My Super Do Gooder friend can have some immediate impact, but what about an eternal impact?
A spear without a tip is of little value. Works without Jesus in them have no lasting value.
A few weeks ago, I was listening to “Truth for Life” featuring Alistair Begg, a highly regarded and eloquent pastor. Relating to the poignant words of a preacher from the 1800’s, he elaborated on the significance of salvation. There is so much behind the words “Jesus please forgive my sins; I will follow you for all my life!” Do we really understand the eternal ramifications of this? Alistair proceeded to bring this into the bright light saying, that saving the entirety of people with aids in Africa is nothing compared to one person coming to Christ. The starkness of this comparison stunned me.
Are you taking the significance of salvation way to lightly?
Of course there is good in saving people from suffering and death due to aids, feeding the homeless, and every other work we do to help our fellow man! It is to be a priority. The Bible is full of verses instructing us to serve those in need, especially widows and orphans. James also wrote:
“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”
James 1:27 (NLT)
Yes, God is all for acts of service, but he is even more for reaching the lost. He gave everything to save us. Remember the good shepherd who left the 99 sheep to go search for the lost one?
Look how Jesus demonstrated the priority. After Mary poured expensive perfume over Jesus, the disciples reacted with worldly priority:
The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste!” they said. “It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”
But Jesus, aware of this, replied, “Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”
Matthew 26:8-13 (NLT)
Jesus’ death and resurrection outweighed giving money to the poor. Of course! A person’s eternity hangs in the balance.
We are to do good works, but we must not leave off the tip of the spear.
Vast amounts of works are done by well-meaning Christians across the country, the world. How often is the gospel shared? Do those being served even know there is more for them than the worldly relief they are receiving? I’ve always found this verse from 1 Peter stinging:
“And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way.”
1 Peter 3:15-16 (NLT)
When have you been asked this question?
Each of us has an over-arching good work to accomplish while here on Earth. I call it your “Life Mission”. Its origin comes from the two most important commands according to Jesus:
“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Jesus Christ| Matthew 22:37-38 (NLT)
If we truly love God and those he loves, then we will prioritize eternity and be sure to keep the tip on the spear as we pursue our Life Missions.
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