My brother lives in the mountains in Colorado and is in the house construction business. It has been tight making ends meet and feeding all of the mouths in his home because that industry has nearly come to a grinding halt due to the economy.
Last week I found out that my brother had to give up his backhoe because he was not able to keep up with the payments. That will definitely put a damper on future job opportunities. After I learned about this, I kept thinking about a verse that I know from the book of James 2:14-17: “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.”
I spoke to my husband about the possibility of our sending money to my brother to buy a plow blade to attach to his truck. That would enable him to plow out his own driveway when it snows so he can get to another job, and it might allow him the opportunity to make some extra money plowing out businesses in town. Were we supposed to do this? Could we afford to?
The next morning, I ended up talking with a friend about my brother’s situation and what I was contemplating. Surprisingly, she and her husband had just been discussing this exact same topic regarding a relative of theirs who has fallen on hard times. That was a confirmation for both of us that we were indeed on the right track.
When I got home, I sat down to finish up a Bible study lesson. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that James 2:14-16 was a part of the lesson, and also 1 John 3:16-18: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”
I shouted to my husband with excitement and read him the verses. God was definitely speaking through His living and active Word.
I went back to my lesson and soon wound up at Isaiah 58:7: “Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
Not turning away from my own flesh and blood. Laying down my life and giving material possessions for the sake of my brother and his family. The message was coming through loud and clear.
Next came a prayer asking God how we were supposed to do it. Should we give less money at church for awhile? Do we take money from the do-not-touch-except-in-extreme-emergency-fund? We have slowly been building that back up from scratch since the time my husband was laid off a few years ago. While his job seems secure now, you never know. I went back and read the verses in James 2 again, and this time I kept reading up through verse 18: “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”
There was my answer. How could I tell my brother to believe that the Lord would provide for him when I discovered that I was having trouble with the concept for myself? If I believe the Lord will provide for my brother’s family (even trusting me to help with that) then why should I be worried about my own family’s resources? It is all His, anyway. When God is speaking so directly to me, I need to obey and trust Him. If I truly believe God is our provider, then as James says, I must show my faith by what I do.
Lisa Jisa and her family have been residents of Ahwatukee Foothills since 2000. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.