At times in my adult life I have enjoyed baking with Sourdough. In case you don’t know, sourdough is a leaven that is used instead of yeast or baking powder and has a decidedly sour odor and taste. You can start with water, flour and some yeast, or you can start with just water, flour and time. Either way, getting your yeast from the store, or from the air, it begins to bubble and grow in time. This “starter” can then be used in everything from pancakes and biscuits to French bread and dinner rolls.
I was reading James 2:26 “faith without works (deeds) is dead,” and saw it in a new way. You see sourdough is a living organism. If you leave it on the counter without tending it, it will die. It has to eat, and it eats the natural sugars found in flour. Just about any kind of flour. I used to think you had to feed it a table spoon of sugar every day or so, but I have learned it will do nicely without it. But it won’t survive just sitting for days and weeks unattended. It would feed on itself until there was nothing left but a rank smelling gray liquid goo. I know, I’ve experienced it. But if I keep adding some water and some flour every day or so it grows and grows until I have to use most of it, or give some away.
Like Sourdough, our faith needs to be tended to or it will die. Many people have defined “works” as good deeds. Therefore we would need to feed the hungry to strengthen our faith. While that might help, I believe that we each need to think about what “work” would specifically feed, strengthen , and apply to our weakest area of faith.
Like exercising a specific muscle group to recover from an injury or surgery, we would do best to search ourselves and discover where our faith is lagging the most, as a place to focus our work.
What area in your life brings fear or stress to you just by thinking about change? What areas of your life have you made so comfortable that to stretch and grow there feels like abandoning yourself?
Maybe you are shy or an introvert. Greater faith would be needed to feel comfortable in some ministry that would place you sharing your faith with others.
Maybe you feel like you can’t speak well in public. Greater faith would be required to trust God for a message and the power to speak it publically.
Maybe you are filled with ideas about ministry in an area you don’t feel you would be allowed to do, or could do. You need more faith to trust that the God who has filled you with ideas and passion, would also give you the strength and ability to actively engage in that ministry.
With each of these examples a person could get busy “working” in the areas they are most comfortable, and never grow in the specific area of faith they need. The “work” they need to do is directly related to the “faith” in them that is dying. They each need to step out and trust that it is God who has placed in them the ideas, passions, and longings, so He too will give them what they need “when they need it” to serve and act out of faith not fear. Whenever we fail to strengthen our faith and feed it by working to make it grow it will end up dead, useless, and a sour gray goo in our lives. I have experienced this too.
Let me challenge you a bit today. Let me give you a cup of spiritual Sourdough Starter. Where is your faith lacking? Where do you experience fear, trepidation, or resistance to acting out on a God given prompting? Is there some reoccurring ministry suggestion that makes you say: “no, not me! I could never do that”? I’m not saying we have to dive into the deep end of ministry where we find our faith lacking, but we all need to face the area were our faith is week and begin some work there so it will grow… so it won’t die. James 2:26 (NIV) As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
In this next week approach someone who does the very thing God has brought to mind as you read this, and ask them how you might help, learn, grow, and build your faith. Before you know it you’ll be sharing the faith that has grown in you with someone else.