14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.James 2:14-17
This was another one of those God moments: I went to bed with a question on my mind, and woke up in the morning with today’s verse from my year-long Bible-reading plan just happening (coincidentally?) to speak directly to the question I was wondering about last night. God is so creative in how He speaks to us – it’s totally awesome!
So the question I had is: when are we called upon to do something after hearing of the struggles of a loved one, and when are we called upon to just listen and empathize?
I’ve been called (not in a positive way) a “fixer” – meaning I always want to try to “fix” problems rather than just being a good listener. I have a family member with whom I have this conversation all the time.
I only “kind of get” the point of listening without trying to solve a problem. In fact that was the question on my mind as my head hit the pillow last night.
If someone is telling me they’re hungry, what sense does it make for me to empathize without offering them food? Am I to say, “I can only imagine; that must be really hard. Let me give you a hug. I’ll pray for you,” all the while holding a large and tasty sandwich in my hand?
That makes no sense! At least not to me.
It was awesome to get up this morning to spend some time with God’s Word, only to discover that James (1/2 brother of Jesus) was pondering the same thing in terms of the time we sinful humans spend on Earth serving God.