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What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? James 2:14-16 (NLT)

One of Lucifer’s favorite tactics is to use half-truths to distract us and keep us from being the Christ-followers we want to be. When I was growing up I remember lesson after lesson about being ‘a good witness’. There was a saying going around at that time that said: “Each One Reach One”. The idea was simple. If each person would go out and win one person for Jesus it wouldn’t be long before the whole world was Christian. That was over 50 years ago now and obviously something went wrong with the theory.

Nevertheless, I tried. I became the ‘preacher’ in my elementary and Junior High School. I was passionate (in my own mind at least) about my faith, my love for Jesus, and my desire to show others the way to Christ. But no one seemed to listen. When my message fell on deaf ears I grew discouraged and began to feel like a terrible failure.

Simple childhood experience? Perhaps. But we struggle with the same thing as adults. It’s more refined of course, but Satan uses the adult version to dampen our spirits. The news media tells us over and over again that as Christians, proselytization is inappropriate in the workplace. Public displays that are sanctioned by any ‘government body’ are illegal. In some parts of the world people are even put to death for telling others about Jesus. In all these situations Satan attacks us by ‘reminding us’ that people don’t really care about our faith. That’s the great lie in the battle for our EFFECTIVENESS.

Again, as stated earlier, this is a half-truth. The Apostle James, and brother of Jesus, makes the statement in his letter to the church that ‘faith without works is dead’. As one pastor stated, preach a sermon every day and if necessary, use words! People don’t need to HEAR about our faith. People really don’t need to HEAR about how much Jesus loves them. People need to SEE the love of Jesus lived out in how we treat them, in how we react to adversity, in how we live lives of integrity. Faith without works is religion. Religion never brought anyone close to Christ, relationship does. An effective Christian is one that shows others what Jesus is like through love, acceptance and understanding.  

In the BATTLE FOR OUR EFFECTIVENESS, the Truth Statement is: People don’t want to hear about your faith, they want to see the love of Christ lived out in your actions. Don’t let the enemy keep you defeated in being an effective witness. Consider how Christ would react to the person who is rude to you. Consider how Christ would react to those of different races, different religions or different lifestyles. Then go out and show them Jesus!

PRAYER: Lord, I’ve been duped into thinking I’m ineffective as your follower because I don’t have words to say or a great ministry that wins others to Christ. I see now that I’m most effective when I am showing people what your love is like. Empower me with your Spirit to SHOW people your love, grace and understanding. Amen.

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October 2011
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