Sometimes, when you do something nice, it's to be nice. Sometimes when you do something nice, it ends up nice. Sometimes when you do something nice, though, people take advantage of you. So, that brings me to the question of the hour. What is a work in faith? James 2:17 says that a faith without works is a dead faith. He goes on to say that you can't have works without faith. Paul greatly defines this in my favorite of his work, 1 Corinthians 13. If I sing out a glorious song, but have not love, I'm just noise pollution (ok, my version).
This question has been haunting me for awhile, since we moved to Trinidad. At home, I was heavily involved in the church and felt like I was contributing to the Kingdom in a real, tangible way. I had a purpose in The Church, several actually. But I come here and I'm nobody. To no one. I'm just a guest a church. And there have been other internal discussions in our family about actions and their meaning.
So, why do we do things and what should we do? Complicated question and one that doesn't have a consistent answer. I probably did a lot of things in Houston to not only help The Kingdom, but I got a little recognition out of it. It also made me feel complete because I was using my gifts, spiritual and otherwise. I did somethings I wasn't really into but they needed to be done so I was happy to do them. It was a really good learning experience for me because I figured out what some of my gifts are and how, in that situation, I could apply them. And I had a lot more opportunities to do so back there.
Now the question becomes, what do I do? I learned that if I do it for Jesus and His glory alone, that is going to have the most impact. If I am only the vessel, then that's where He shines. If I'm doing it at all for my own self-gratification, while it may be successful, I don't think it has any long term staying power.
So, I had an illumination this week. I wasn't reading any Scripture that really pointed to this but I was reading a devotional. It had nothing to do with this topic, but it occurred to me what a "work" is in my new world.
I'm a full-time Mommy now. I live in a foreign country, so we have to set up shop all over again. In the words of Matthew Henry (again, paraphrased), You have to start at home and get that lined up and then you can go out and work for The Body. So, my work is simple. I need to love The Lord, my God, with all my heart, mind and body. Then I need to love my neighbor as myself. So, who is my neighbor? I have 3 of them living under one roof with me right now! I need to care for them to the best of my ability. And I think this is the answer for a season. I think He has more work for me here, but He wants me to get it right at home before He has me do other stuff for The Body. I need to get prepared to fight the battles that are coming because ex-pat land affords a lot of distractions from Him!
I guess you could say I figured out what my "work" is for right now. Should have been obvious, huh? Well, I'm a slow learner. I'm just glad I have a long-suffering King who waits on me to figure this out!
When you act out in faith and people take advantage of you, well, that's a tough lesson to learn. That's when I think God is using your mistakes to bring to your attention that the work you are doing will bear more fruit if you knew more about Him and His real purpose for you. I don't think we go out and blindly act, I believe, as we've been studying in Nehemiah, a plan of action is in order.
So therefore, have faith. Act on that faith. But have a plan and a purpose that you know God has directed you to and do it for His glory. Won't mean no more screw ups but hey--we are only human--we just gotta rely on Him!