2021 – The Other
Show and Tell
The following story is fictitious. Any resemblance to persons alive or dead is strictly coincidental.
Little Johnny walked confidently into the kindergarten classroom with his brown paper bag tightly clinched in his right hand. His teacher detected an air of enthusiasm that was usually not there. Johnny was a good boy. He did his lessons, adequately. But if left to his own druthers, he would have just as soon stayed home working on his relationship with his mother. But today was different… obviously. The teacher knew why.
Little Johnny carefully set down the bag just long enough to take off his jacket and hang it on his hook. He then, quickly, picked up the bag and went to his desk. He sat the brown paper bag squarely in the middle of the desk top. Little Johnny began to wait.
Finally, it was his turn for… Show and Tell. He proudly carried his brown paper bag to the front of the room. His little hand reached way down into the bottom of the bag. Everyone waiting breathlessly… what was Johnny going to show? As he drew his hand out there was an audible sigh of… disappointment. Johnny held in his hand a plain ol' rock.
But following the wave of disappointment, there was a surge of curiosity. "This is bound to be more than just a rock. Johnny must have some kind of special rock.” All the class was engaged, again.
--A kid in the front row thought, "Johnny's dad must be an astronaut and that's a moon rock."
--A girl, with her pigtails to tight, speculated, “This must be some kind of radioactive plutonium from a nuclear reactor.”
--A boy, who had been to Sunday School the day before, hoped that it was the rock that David used to kill Goliath.
--Johnny's teacher speculated, "Now, we will hear a story about how this was some special rock to Johnny."
After a long moment… of holding the rock high in the air… Johnny put the rock back into the brown paper bag. Johnny rolled down the top. He returned to his seat without saying a word. The teacher, after a moment of confusion, said, "Johnny this is Show and Tell. What good is it to show your rock without telling about it?"
Getting Back to the Basics… James makes the same point in the second half of chapter two…
NLT James 2:14 Dear brothers and sisters, what's the use of saying you have faith if you don't prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can't save anyone. 18 I will show you my faith through my good deeds.
Christian faith is alive. Christian faith tells. Christian faith shows. The Christian faith is a Show and Tell faith.
James does not want us to misunderstand. So, James explains faith. In this the second half of chapter two, James gives us a definition of faith. He gives us five qualities of a… Show and Tell Faith.
Faith Quality One: Faith Is Consistent
Here is the picture: You come across a family in poverty. They don't have any clothes. It's the middle of the winter. They haven't eaten in three days. They are without hope of anything to eat in the future. They are helpless. And you say to them, "Well, I sure hope you can find something to eat and some place to stay warm. God Bless you." You then get into your SUV and drive back home to your split-level house with central heat and two fireplaces. There’s something wrong with this picture. Here's what James says:
NLT James 2:14-17 Dear brothers and sisters, what's the use of saying you have faith if you don't prove it by your actions? That kind of faith can't save anyone. 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing, 16 and you say, "Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well"-- but then you don't give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17 So you see, it isn't enough just to have faith. Faith that doesn't show itself by good deeds is no faith at all-- it is dead and useless.
It is pretty absurd for someone to wish the penniless, prosperity and then, go on their merry way without helping. It is just as absurd to claim faith in our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ while your faith does not change the way you live.
Quality One: Faith is consistent. As we experience the grace of God in our lives, we will explode with the graciousness! The mercy of God moves us to SHOW mercy! Faith is consistent.
Faith Quality Two: Faith Is More than Knowledge
Throughout the ministry of Jesus there was one group who already knew who he was; the demons. The demons had no doubt as to the authenticity of Jesus' claims of being the son of God. They believed. The demons trembled at the power of Jesus.
Luke 4:34-37 "Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are- the Holy One of God." 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be silent and come out of him!" And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, "What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!" 37 And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.
James uses this story to show us the second quality of faith.
NLT James 2:18-20 Now someone may argue, "Some people have faith; others have good deeds." I say, "I can't see your faith if you don't have good deeds, but I will show you my faith through my good deeds." 19 Do you still think it's enough just to believe that there is one God? Well, even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror! 20 Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless?
Simply having the knowledge that God is One, does not make your faith any better than the demons. For they believe enough to tremble.
Quality two: Faith is more than knowledge. Knowledge is crucial. Theology is essential. But if knowledge does TELL you to Show your faith… it is of no more value than the faith of demons.
Faith Quality Three: Faith Involves Action
The afternoon sunlight reflected off the blade. The blade that was held high in his hand. The blade that would soon implant itself into the heart of the sacrifice. The blade that would take away his most precious blessing, his son Isaac. As the blade pauses for a moment, Abraham's life flashed through his mind; all of his life; all of Isaac’s life; all of his encounters with YHWH, must have played like a movie in fast forward through Abraham.
As the knife started its downward arch of faith, his hand was stopped by the words of an angel:
Genesis 22:11-12 “Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." 12 The angel said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
James uses Abraham to show the third quality of faith.
NLT James 2:21-24 Don't you remember that our ancestor Abraham was declared right with God because of what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see, he was trusting God so much that he was willing to do whatever God told him to do. His faith was made complete by what he did-- by his actions. 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: "Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous." He was even called "the friend of God." 24 So you see, we are made right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
Abraham's faith moved him to action. His faith was not kept in box to be taken out on Sunday morning, so he could worship God. His faith transformed everything he did. When Abraham lifted the knife to kill his son, he brought more glory to God, than all the thousands of animals he had sacrificed throughout his life.
Quality three: Faith transforms action.
Faith Quality Four: Faith Take Chances
"This is really strange." The whole family strained to see through the window out past the city. "It sure is. This is the seventh day in a row that they have marched around the city. This is really strange." "Look, mom, it's different today. They are going around again. All the other days they only went around once… now they are going around again."
Anxiously, the family watched as Joshua's army march around the city of Jericho… six more times. Then the climax, they feared, finally happened. With a trumpet blast and shout the little room began to shake as they watched the massive walls of the city begin to crumble. The power of God delivered the entire city of Jericho into the hands of Joshua. All in Jericho perished that day with the exception of the one family.
For you see, Rahab took a chance. When she had found out that the two strangers were spies from the Hebrew army. She knew it was her only chance. The whole city feared the Hebrews. Rahab believed Yahweh of the Hebrews was the God in heaven and on earth. So, she had hidden the spies and sent the soldiers the other way to protect them. Knowing that if she was caught protecting the spies she too would die.
James uses her for the fourth quality of faith:
NLT James 2:25 Rahab the prostitute is another example of this. She was made right with God by her actions-- when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road.
Rahab was considered righteous because she acted on her faith. She took a bold risk putting her faith into action. Quality four: Faith takes chances. The term "cautious faith" is an oxymoron. You cannot have a careful faith. You cannot have a tenuous faith. If you have faith in God, you are willing to get out of your comfort zone! Faith is dangerous because it is FAITH!
When was the last time you did something that required faith? When was the last time you had to trust God to see you through? When was the last time you did anything, you really didn't think you could do, but you did it anyway? Do you have a chance taking faith?
As an interesting footnote Rahab is included in the genealogy of Jesus as recorded in Matthew chapter 1. A remarkable achievement for a Canaanite prostitute. All because she had the faith to take a chance!
Faith Quality Five: Faith Is Living
NLT James 2:26 Just as the body is dead without a spirit, so also faith is dead without good deeds.
James pictures a funeral; an open casket funeral. The nicely dressed body in the coffin is not going to get up. James says faith without doing is just a dead body in the coffin. Faith is alive moving us into action. A living faith moves us to do. A living faith moves us to engage. A living faith moves us to be involved. A living faith cannot be self-focused… it moves us to both Show and Tell!
Quality five: Faith is living.
Show me your faith. Tell me of a consistent faith. A faith that matches actions with beliefs.
Show me your faith. Tell me your faith is more than the demons. Your faith must be more than knowledge.
Show me your faith. Tell me of an Abraham-like faith. A faith immersed in obedience.
Show me your faith. A faith willing to take chances. Tell me of a faith like Rahab's, who saw an opportunity, was all in.
Show me your faith. A faith that is full of spirit. Tell me of a faith that’s alive and kicking.
Don’t be like Little Johnny, simply Showing a rock. Tell me of your faith by action!
November 28, 2021
Los Alamos Church of Christ
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