Summary: It is futile to have faith without deeds. In simple language, it is hypocrisy and such a faith can never save anybody. One’s faith is dead if it is not accompanied by action.
An Endangered Species
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If 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? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James 2: 14 – 17)
Once in a while in our spiritual life, we come to a point where we struggle to put into practice what we preach. The futility of preaching without practicing is highlighted by Edward G. Bulwer Lytton. He said, “When a person is down in the world, an ounce of help is better than a pound of preaching”.
When Benjamin Franklin said, “Nothing preaches better than the act”, he was emphasizing the fact that practicing is much more important than preaching. We are living in a world where we can see fiery preachers in abundance, seldom interested to practice what they preach. Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy was that an ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching where as Bowen Baxter believed that if somebody thinks practicing what he preaches is tough, he should try preaching what he practices.
‘Good Samaritan’ is a beautiful Bible story narrated by Jesus Christ in the New Testament Times highlighting the significance of practicing what we preach. Today, I would like to present my own version of that old story in the modern context.
Long ago, a man was on his journey from Jerusalem to Jericho. Unfortunately, he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him off his clothes and beat him very badly. After robbing him off all his valuables, they left that poor man half-dead on the road.
On the way, at last, came a Christian. Instead of carrying a wooden cross on his shoulders, he felt it more convenient to carry a golden cross. A twenty two carat gold chain encircling his neck reached his belly. A tiny golden cross hanging in the middle of the necklace was the symbol of his faith.
Fondling the little cross with his finger tip, the Christian said-
“Lord, it’s a pity that the Jews gave you a wooden cross. If I get a chance again, I will definitely offer you a golden cross”.
When the wounded man saw the cross-bearing Christian, he groaned-
The Christian drew back in horror. He blasted at the wounded man.
“How can you stay in the middle of the road?”
“Sir,” he said with much difficulty, “some cruel robbers wounded me and left me here”.
“I cannot blame you, my friend,” he said, “However, you have now become a burden for the public”.
“Sir, little water please”, he begged.
“I really want to help you”, said the Christian and continued, “At the moment, I don’t have a single coin with me to offer. Moreover, I am on my way to attend a Christian Revival Crusade and I have to reach there at the earliest. I am sure that our loving Lord will send somebody to help you”.
Holding his Bible close to his heart, the Christian disappeared into the thin air.
After some time, a young evangelist reached the spot. With a moustache semi-circular in shape and a well-trimmed beard, the evangelist looked extremely smart and handsome. He stared at the struggling man and said-
“Oh, gracious God! Who did this heinous crime?”
Thoroughly watching the wounded man for a few moments, the evangelist said-
“Brother, being a well-known Bible scholar and a holder of several doctorates, I feel you are reaping the rewards for everything you have done in the past”.
With much effort, the wounded man said-
“Please … give me … little water…”
Ignoring his request, the evangelist said-
“The Holy Bible says, whoever drinks of this water will thirst again”.
After a small pause, he said-
“I am on a world missionary trip and have a very busy schedule. Yesterday, I was in Tehran and today I am going to Bahrain. Next week I will be in Boston and after two days I will be in Houston”.
“Sir, I am dying….”
“Don’t worry”, said the evangelist with a new vigor and added-
“By the time I come back, if you are alive, I promise that I will arrange a grand crusade. I will conduct a healing ministry and I will heal you right on the spot. By the time I return, if you die, I will arrange a superb funeral service and bury your body in a tomb constructed of imported marbles. Till the time I come back, may our Lord keep you in peace and prosperity”.