Oftentimes I've told people on blogs and elsewhere that I believe our good deeds flow out of us as a result of salvation. Not as a means to save us. In other words, we do good because it's the fruit or expression of what we are in Christ and evidence of what God is doing through us. We don't work to earn God's favor and, hopefully, His salvation.
I was reading James 2 the other day and came across these verses and then I also read something in a publication which I wanted to share. The quote from the publication shares how our inner attitude is reflected outwardly ... how our saving faith means God works through us to produce works pleasing to Himself.
My blogging friend Sanil mentioned yesterday how some Christians she know almost have an attitude that things will be sorted out in the afterlife, therefore, they can't be bothered with helping the oppressed or the poor or righting social injustices. It's like they figure God will make it all better in the end so why should they even try. I disagree with this view. We shouldn't throw our hands in the air in defeat and say "what's the use?"
I believe James is teaching that our faith is active! It doesn't have a defeatist mentality or a lazy, uninvolved, uncaring mentality. It's proven alive or real by how we treat others! This is why he concludes "faith without deeds is dead."
14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. . . .
26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
And now for the quote I mentioned above:
A difficult lesson for all followers of Christ is that our spiritual fruit can come in two forms: fruit of activity and fruit of attitude. Activity, obviously, refers to the things that we do, the works we accomplish for the Lord. While these deeds can be wonderful, we cannot always trust them. Jesus Himself warned about the error of placing too much confidence in our actions (Matt. 7:21-23).
The fruit of attitude, however, is a far better indication of what is happening in our spirits. You see, as the Holy Spirit works in our lives, His fruit is manifested first in our attitudes. As we come under the influence of His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, our inward attitudes will begin to affect our outward behavior. The change comes from within as the Holy Spirit modifies our thinking (Rom. 12:2). This inner transformation is squarely in line with the very definition of repentance: a change of mind that results in a change of behavior.
When we give the Holy Spirit free reign in our lives and focus on our growth in Him, we will begin to notice changes in our thoughts and deeds. It is as though when we are filled with the Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit is simply the natural outflow of what is happening within our hearts. Then we can't help but show the world what sets us apart as different.
What do you think?
(emphasis mine -- quote from Charles Stanley - In Touch magazine, May 2010, pg. 9)