When I used to teach flute lessons, I found myself with a variety of students at all different levels. I enjoyed the challenge of helping each of them improve; however, the students that frustrated me the most were the ones that had talent but never practiced. In fact, I remember having a student that had a lot of natural talent and another student that was decent, but she had to work very hard to get better. The decent student began playing better than the more talented student because she worked hard and practiced every day when the naturally talented student relied on being naturally talented. Talent can only take us so far; we eventually need to practice hard to keep up with the competition. My naturally talented student believed that I could teach her and she came back every week for a new lesson but she never put what I taught her to practice. The hard working student not only trusted my teaching, she put it into to practice and worked hard. I remember telling the naturally talented student that she was wasting her parent's money on lessons if she wasn't going to practice. The Bible tells us Christians a very similar message about faith; please look up James 2:14-20.
"So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead," James 2:17. This is a very strong statement, but one that we need to hear desperately if we want to have faith that is alive and active. I believe that this verse can be taken out of context very easily and be used to support works over grace; however, we also cannot shy away from looking at the message that God purposely put in the Bible for us to hear. The Greek word for "works" is ergon and has the following meaning according to BlueLetterBible.com:
1) business, employment, that which any one is occupiedLooking at definition number two, we can see that the word could also mean "product." I think that James is pointing out that if there is no product to show from the person's faith, what is the point? If we are not being changed by our faith than it is a useless faith. Verse 19 says, "You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe - and shudder!" We are children of God and that bears a responsibility that goes beyond believing in God. We should be producing fruit in our lives as a result of our faith; Jesus tells us that if we love Him we will produce fruit (John 15:9-17). John 15:16 says, "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you."
a) that which one undertakes to do, enterprise, undertaking
2) any product whatever, any thing accomplished by hand, art, industry, or mind
3) an act, deed, thing done: the idea of working is emphasised in opp. to that which is less than work
Apply this truth to the Armor of God and the shield of faith is amazing! Putting together what Christ has told us and the bold truth that we read in James tells us that our faith is alive and active when we are obeying God. We are given permission to use the authority of Jesus' name when we have a faith that is alive and active and producing fruit. When we are living the lives that we are called to live, we become a warrior with a strong and mighty shield of faith!
Is your faith alive and producing fruit?