James 2:22 (KJV) – Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
James 2:22 (NIV) – You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.
Anyone who has ever used a choke chain to walk their dog is probably familiar with the "p" and "q" rule. That is to say, when making the loop for the animal's head, the chain is dropped through the slip ring at the end. Depending on which way it is held to put over the animal's head, it looks like either a "p" or a "q".
The proper way to do it is to put the loop over the head when it is in the form of the "p", for that is gentle on the neck; when tugged, it will tighten up and then slacken back down again. The animal gets the message in a gentle, firm and harmless manner that it is to stay close, or to stop what it is doing.
When used in the "q" formation however, the chain gets tighter and tighter and there is no slack, thus it literally "chokes".
It reminds me of how very like our relationships this can be, with our families, our friends, our faith in God.
We can be caught in the "q", "choked" by fear, control; questioning, misunderstanding, misinterpreting; scared and alone, not really knowing God's love. Or, we can put ourselves in the "p", a place of prayer and peace; accepting His love, listening to what He wants for us; and letting Him help us in whatever we do, gently bringing us back if we wander. When our faith and our actions work together, our faith is strengthened, our lives made more complete.
Prayer: May we strive to strengthen our faith each day by "doing", not just by "saying". Help us to help those who feel they are being "choked" or smothered in their relationships or beliefs to see that you are a God of love. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.