Summary: Reality Shows don’t show much reality
Reality Shows don’t show much reality.
1. REALITY FAITH GOES BEYOND WHAT YOU SAY
v. 14 Real faith is not just something you say, something you talk about. "Can that faith save him? Can such faith save him?" It doesn’t say he actually has faith, he just claims to have it. He talks about it. He knows all the right phrases. There are a lot of people who claim to be Christians. George Gallup says that 50 million Americans say "I’m born again," but you don’t see anything in their lifestyle. Today we tend to label people as Christians if they make the slightest sound of being a believer. It’s more than just talk that is involved in real faith. Jesus said, "Not everybody who says to me `Lord, Lord’ is going to enter into the kingdom of heaven." Not everybody with a Christian bumper sticker is a believer. [holding John 3:16 sign between the goalposts!] Not everybody who is a professor of Christianity is a possessor of Christianity. "Can such faith save him? What value is this kind of faith?" Nothing. Talk is cheap. Remember when Larry Flint, the publisher of Hustler, said he was born again? But you never saw any change in his life. He kept right on printing pornography. No difference. No change.
"Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as `Lord,’ but they still won’t enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven.
James is saying that real faith is not just something you say. Do you know anybody that claims to be a Christian but you don’t see any evidence in their life? That’s a phony faith.
Real faith is not just something you say.
2. REALITY FAITH GOES BEYOND YOUR FEELINGS
It’s more than emotions. A lot of people confuse emotions and sentiment with faith. You can be emotionally moved and never act on it. You can go to church and get a quiver in your liver, goose bumps, but it may never make any difference.
Then he gives an illustration.
v. 15 I saw a Peanuts cartoon. Charlie Brown and Linus are inside all bundled up and Snoopy’s out in the cold shivering in front of an empty dog food bowl. Charlie and Linus are having a discussion on how sad it is that Snoopy is hungry and cold. "He’s cold and hungry. We ought to do something about it." They walk outside and say to Snoopy, "Be of good cheer, Snoopy." Do you know where Charles Schultz got that idea? From this verse. What good is it if you see someone in need and you say, "I feel for you!"
He’s saying, “It’s more than just words. It’s more than just feelings.” If, after church, you’re getting into you car and you happen to slam your fingers in your car door, and you’re standing there in agony with blood on your fingers, and I walk up and say, "I really feel for you!" -- is that any help?
Real faith is more than just sympathy and feeling and emotion. You get assistance. You do something about it. You act on it. Real faith takes the initiative. A real believer has real faith and it’s practical. It gets involved with people. He’s talking about Christians here. (This is the only time in Scripture that Christian women are called sisters.) When you become a part of God’s family you have some family responsibilities. A real believer will care about other believers.
17But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?
Real faith is generous. It wants to give. Who can count on you in a crisis? How many Christians have the freedom to call you up in the middle of the night if they are in an emergency? Not just talking the talk. Not just feeling for people. I John 3:14 says that one of the proofs of salvation is that we love other Christians. Do you have fellowship with believers? Real faith wants to be around other believers. You love them. It is known we are Christians by our love.
We are a lot better at verbalizing our faith than practicing it. I can’t meet everybody’s needs but I can meet somebody’s. Even Jesus couldn’t meet everybody’s needs. James is saying that if my faith doesn’t lead me to share with others it’s wrong.
v. 17 If I don’t feel like helping other Christians, I don’t have a sick faith, I have a dead faith. James is laying it on the line. He says, “Do you want real faith? It’s more than just something you say and it’s more than just something you feel.”