Scriptures

Don’t TELL me you’re a Christian, SHOW me!

Introduction

We’ve had such a wonderful weekend together and it was so encouraging to see so many young people getting involved in the practical side of what it means to be a Christian.

We’ve fed the homeless, washed people’s cars, tidied up their gardens and had some excellent lessons throughout the weekend from our guest speakers.

And if we’ve learned anything from this whole weekend, it’s simply this, being a Christian is more than just coming together for worship every week. Being a Christian is more than just getting together to sing and pray. Being a Christian is about showing the world, through our actions, that God cares for everyone.

Our theme for the weekend was,

‘Don’t TELL me you’re a Christian, SHOW me!’

But what we’re really saying to the world is that, we’re

‘caring for PEOPLE, for PEOPLE matter to God.’

An elderly man was walking though Glasgow city centre on a really hot day when he saw a bunch of kids fighting over two ice-lollies. He decided that since the ice-lollies were only 25p each, he would buy twenty of them and hand them out to all of the kids.

If only that’s where this story ended. Sadly, the elderly man’s act of kindness was viewed with suspicion by an adult onlooker who called the police. Two policemen arrived, found the elderly man, and took him to the local police station and questioned him for five hours.

As Christians, we help people all the time, but it’s incredible, just how many people think we have alternative motives. Some think we’re eager to help people because we want their money. Some think we’re helping people because we want to convert them.

In fact, the church here, were out singing some hymns on the street one time, whilst handing out leaflets and the amount of people that offered us money was incredible. You see, they couldn’t understand that all we wanted to do was share the Gospel in song without receiving anything in return.

We help people because God wants us too, because it’s through helping people that we show the world, that God not only loves them, but He cares for them too.

Raise your hand if you have faith in God?

Raise your hand if your friends, schoolmates or work colleagues know you’re a Christian?

How do they know you’re a Christian? (Feed Back)

Some people may know we’re Christians because we get up early every Sunday morning for worship. Some people may know we’re Christians because of the way we act, we never swear, we don’t tell lies or listen to crude jokes, we don’t get involved in drugs or alcohol. But if you really want to let people know you’re a Christian, then try doing a good deed for them.

You see, helping people is an outward expression of our faith in the One who loves and cares for us. Now as we go through today’s lesson, every now and then, you will see the words, ‘I’m praying for you’ coming up on the screen, but every time those words appear, I need you all to shout,

‘I’m praying for you’!

Our text today begins in James 2:14

‘What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?’ James here, is speaking about too different kinds of faith, a dead faith and a saving faith. His first question is basically asking, ‘do you have faith? Great, but if your faith isn’t shown in your good deeds, then it’s a dead faith, it’s no good to anyone, it won’t save you’.

There was once a Scotsman who rowed people across a river. On one oar he had carved the word ‘faith’ and on the other oar he had carved the word ‘works’. One day as he was rowing, one of the passengers noticed the carvings and asked him about them.

The Scotsman didn’t reply but pulled in the oar marked ‘works’ and started to row with only one oar. The boat went around in circles. He then pulled in the oar marked ‘faith’ and started to row only with the ‘works’ oar. The boat again went around in circles, but this time in the opposite direction. He then rowed with both oars and reached the other bank safely.

Before his passenger got off the boat he said, ‘A Christian must row his life using both oars, faith and works. Only then will he reach heaven’s shore.’

In other words, if we want our faith to be a saving faith, our faith needs to work together with our good deeds, otherwise our faith is a dead faith, it’s no good to anyone.

‘Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.’ 1 John 3:18

James and John are both saying,

‘Don’t TELL me you’re a Christian, SHOW me!’

James goes on to give us two examples of what our good deeds could look like.

‘Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 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?’ His second question, is basically asking, ‘do you have faith?Great, but if your faith doesn’t lead you to help those in need, then it’s a dead faith, it’s no good to anyone, it won’t save you’. James 2:15-16

What could have happened for someone to be in need of clothes?

Maybe they have lost all their clothes in a house fire, maybe they lost everything in an earthquake or a tsunami, maybe they were very poor in the first place and can’t afford to buy new clothes.

(Skit: The young family and the minister. Volunteers come forward)

Narrator: A young couple come into one of our meetings, and the young man says to the minister,

Young Man: ‘Hi, this is embarrassing but, we received a leaflet through our door saying that you have a food bank here, we were wondering if you could help us.’

Young woman: ‘We’re both unemployed at the moment, we have a young child, but we’re really struggling’.

The Minister: ‘What’s your names?’

Young man: ‘I’m Bruce and this is my girlfriend, Sandra and our little girl is Kylie.’

The Minster: ‘Thank you for coming to see us, I’m sure we can help you out’.

Narrator: And so, the minister gave them some food but just before they left, he said to them.

The Minister: ‘Please feel free to join us anytime you like, we have regular meetings throughout the week.’

Young Man: ‘Thanks, we’ll definitely pop in again and oh, thanks again for the food’.

Narrator: The young couple with their child popped in every now and then, during the next few months.

Narrator: Over time the minister discovered a lot about the family, they weren’t married, the child wasn’t the young mans, the young lady was a recovering alcoholic and the young man was a recovering heroin addict. Their addictions had cost them their jobs, their families and was destroying their lives.

Narrator: One day the young man came to see the minister and asked him.

Young Man: ‘I’m trying to get back into full time work, I’m a carpenter by trade and I was wondering if you could help me buy some tools, so that I can start working again’.

The Minster: ‘I’m sure we can help you out, just leave it with me’.

Narrator: So, the church helped him out by giving him some jobs to do around the building, that way he that way he could earn some money to buy some tools, so that he could get back into work.

Narrator: The church had helped this family many times over the months, in many ways, but one day the young man came to the minister crying his heart out with some devastating news.

Young Man: ‘My girlfriend has died, she died in her sleep over the weekend’.

The Minister: ‘Oh no, I don’t know what to say! I’m so sorry to hear this’

Young Man: ‘We would really love for you to preside over her funeral’.

The Minister: ‘I would love too, are you sure? We’ve only known you guys for about a year!’

Young Man: ‘We’re sure, you’ve been so kind to us, you’ve never once judged us but accepted us just as we are. Can I ask, how much will your services cost?’

The Minister: ‘I don’t charge for presiding over funerals, they’re expensive enough without me adding to the burden. We’re only doing what Christ would want us to do.’

Young Man: ‘Thank you soooooo much, I’ll be in touch’.

Narrator: As the young man is walking away, he mentioned that he doesn’t have any suitable clothing to wear for the funeral, but he didn’t ask for help.

(Volunteers return to their seats)

Let me ask you, what do you do next? (Feed Back)

Now there are some who would say,

‘we’ll we’ve helped them out enough, and we’re presiding over the funeral for free and it certainly doesn’t look like he’s going to become a Christian anyway!’

But then there are others, who would say,

‘it was never about trying to get them to become Christians in the first place, it was simply about treating and helping them in a way which Christ would have done.’

What good does it do, if we say to those who are in real need of some clothes,

‘hey, ‘I’m praying for you’, I’m praying that God will supply you with clothes. In the meantime, keep warm!’

We need to ask ourselves, what could have happened for someone to be in need of food? They may have lost their job, they may have come into some financial difficulties, they may be homeless.

Today in the UK, there are thousands of food banks scattered throughout the land and experts tell us that nearly four million adults rely on them every week to get by. It’s a real problem which isn’t going to go away anytime soon, and loved ones, if there’s ever been a time for the love of God to be shown by providing some food to help those in need, it’s now.

What good does it do, if we say to those who are in real need of some food,

‘hey, ‘I’m praying for you’, I’m praying that God will supply you with food. In the meantime, keep well fed!’

Now I know James is speaking about clothing and food, but he’s really speaking about anyone who has a need of any kind. If you’re at school, someone might need some help with their homework, or maybe a friend whose parents have split up, simply want someone to talk too.

(Skit: The Christian and the gardener. Volunteers come forward)

Narrator: There was a Christian family who hired a gardener named Paul to do their garden every two weeks. They didn’t have a gardener because they were too lazy to do their own garden but because they wanted to help this guy out because he was struggling financially.

Narrator: He’s been doing their garden for a couple of years now but one day he comes to do the garden, and the Christian says to him.

The Christian: ‘Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, how you are doing Paul?’

Paul: ‘I’m not great to be truthful with you, I just lost my daughter over the Christmas period’.

The Christian: ‘Oh no Paul, I’m so sorry to hear that, you must be devastated!’

Narrator: Paul begins to well up and sobs his heart out. The Christians says to him.

The Christian: ‘Come inside for a moment, tell me what happened.’

Narrator: And so, they both go inside, and Paul explains that his daughter had been suffering with an illness for many years but died suddenly a week before Christmas.

Narrator: Paul went on to explain that he had just lost his granddaughter a few months before and he’s really struggling to come to terms with it all and said that parents shouldn’t die before their children. And so, he goes on to say to the Christian.

Paul: ‘We managed to pay for her funeral but because we want our daughter to be buried in the same place as her daughter, and my granddaughter, I’m trying to save up some money, so that we can have our daughter’s name added to the headstone.’

The Christian: ‘How much will that cost Paul?’

Paul: ‘Around £200.’

Narrator: The Christian does their best to comfort them, they give Paul a hug before he starts working on the garden.

(Volunteers return to their seats)

Now let me ask you, remembering they haven’t asked you for any help, what do you do next? (Feed Back)

This is one of those scenarios where it’s all too easy to say, ‘I’m praying for you’, but maybe this is a situation that God has brought to you, in order for you to show him the love of God. Maybe this is a situation where you can’t personally afford to help him out, but you have a church family who can.

You see, helping others in need, is a powerful way of demonstrating our faith in God.

‘In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.’ James 2:17

William Booth once said,

‘Faith and works should travel side by side, step answering to step, like the legs of men walking. First faith, and then works; and then faith again, and then works again, until they can scarcely distinguish which is the one and which is the other.’

I find it interesting that those people whose job it is to do research, tell us that we communicate with others only 7% with our words, 35% with our tone of voice and 58% with our actions.

I could preach ten of the best sermons you’ve ever heard in your life, but you’ll soon forget them. But, if I do one good deed for someone, they will remember that deed, for the rest of their lives.

I mentioned that we went out singing whilst handing out leaflets, and people would certainly know we were Christians because of the songs we were singing and the leaflets we were handing out. But what I didn’t mention is that one of our members noticed an elderly lady struggling to walk, so she stopped singing and helped that lady walk around the shops, until she had finished her shopping, that’s faith in action.

James is saying,

‘Don’t TELL me you’re a Christian, SHOW me!’

‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.’ Galatians 6:9-10

Notice that Paul isn’t just speaking about helping people who aren’t Christians, he’s speaking about helping those who are Christians too. Because there are many Christians who desperately need help at times and the church should step up to help them in their time of need.

Now please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not speaking about helping people and bragging about it. I’m speaking about the kind of faith in God which is shown in our actions but brings glory to God.

‘You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven’. Matthew 5:14-16

Now here’s the problem that many Christians struggle with, you’re out there helping people and when you’re finished, people say to you, ‘thank you’. And you wonder, how is the Father receiving the glory here, when all these people say is ‘thank you’ to me?

We could simply say,

you’re welcome, I’m just a servant of God, and so you should thank Him.’

But if you don’t feel brave enough to say that, just remember what Paul says in Colossians 1:18

‘And he (Christ) is the head of the body, the church.’

Whilst Christ is in heaven, we’re acting on Christ’s behalf as His hands and feet, here on Earth. And so, when people say ‘thank you’ to you, they are indirectly saying ‘thank you’ to God because you’re a part of His body.

You see, faith with legs attached, shows the world how much God loves for them because He sent His Son to die for them.

Faith with legs attached, shows the world how much compassion God has for people.

Faith with legs attached, shows the world how much mercy God has available to them.

Faith with legs attached, shows the world what real sacrificial love is all about.

Faith with legs attached, shows the world that He cares for the weak and helpless in society.

And so, whether people stop to thank God or not, when we have an active living faith, it will always bring glory to God. Let me encourage you to do something for the Lord and allow your faith and deeds to work together. Don’t just tell people in need, ‘I’m praying for you’, do something to actually help them.

Don’t just pray for people who can’t afford to buy food, get some food together and give it to them. Don’t just pray for people who can’t afford to clothe their kids, get some clothes and give them to them. Don’t just pray for people who’ve just lost a loved one, comfort them by simply listening to them. Don’t just pray for your neighbour who’s struggling to maintain their garden, help them.

When you go home today, let me encourage you to listen out for people who are in need. Remember you may not be able to personally help them out, but you have a church family who can, so be sure to speak to the church about it.

If you’re here today and you have a need, then please let someone know about it before you leave, yes, we’ll pray about it, but we’ll also do our best to try and meet that need.

If you’re not a Christian this morning, then please know, that you have a great need at the moment, you’re in great need of a Saviour. Please come and speak to someone today before you leave, and they’ll happily speak to you about the only Person who can meet your need.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness."

2 Timothy 3:16

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