“... the only thing that counts is faith working through love.”
~Galatians 5:6b (NRSV)
The apostle Paul, through Galatians, is perplexed, as he was with the Corinthians, about how to deal with their propensity to add to their faith items of the Law; circumcision in this case.
Somehow they felt that Christ’s obedience on the cross was not sufficient. They were being misinformed. They were trusting false informants. And being so close to Judaism was a problematic distraction.
Even in our day, when we are not under such legalistic influence from a religious setting, our souls bend toward finding something to add to our faith; to make it ‘better’—to somehow deserve our salvation.
We make deals with ourselves. If we do ‘this’ (something holy) we will feel better about ourselves. If we do ‘that’ (something sinful) we feel worse about ourselves.
But true faith is not so much about judging ourselves right or wrong as it is about accepting we are saved despite our sin. In fact, we are saved because of our sin. True faith is not so much about obeying agreed rules as it is discerning the intricate will of God in our circumstances.
Glorying In, But Not Staying In, Our Sinful Natures
When faith becomes not so much a competition against ourselves, of strictly enforcing our obedience, and more so a simple trust in God, even with its failures—we have grasped it better.
The Christian who constantly appreciates their susceptibility to sin, who appreciates the importance of repentance, knows the magnificence of grace—God forgives unconditionally.
When such a faith is operating, sins are not justified, but they are worked through, with the help of God’s grace, so the stench of guilt and shame are dealt with and the sin is not denied. The sin doesn’t crush us; grace liberates us.
In such a way faith is exercised by believing in the power of God’s grace to forgive, which is love. Grace is the perfect manifestation of love.
Faith Is Underpinned By Love
Faith always works in practical ways by helping us improve our untenable situations.
Faith is the agreement beforehand, and the commitment to endure, to not give up.
How else could we live justified by God, and in our consciences, by living guilt and shame free? Faith works by love. We could not sustain our faith unless we could feel God’s love. We would struggle also to maintain our faith if we didn’t accept ourselves.
Faith works when it is working through love. When we are rightly related with God, our experience of grace fuels our faith, through love.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.