“Faith by itself is not enough.  Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.  Now someone may argue, ‘Some people have faith; others have good deeds.’  But I say, ‘How can you show me your faith if you do not have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.’”

James 2:17-18

Notes for Contemplation as You Use this Devotional:

  • This passage from James is sometimes titled, “Faith and Deeds.”
  • Our faith can be both our spiritual practice and our belief in the tenets which guide our way of life.
  • When we say that we live faithfully, we are acknowledging that we strive to follow these tenets so we can realize true spiritual understanding and enlightenment.
  • Mature spiritual understanding requires both accountability and responsibility.
  • Master Teacher H. Emilie Cady says in Lessons in Truth: “Unless you use for the service of others what God has already given to you, you will find it a long, weary road to spiritual understanding.”

Contemplation Questions:

Ask yourself:

  • How do I currently describe my spiritual practice and my faith?
    • List, word map, or illustrate your description.
  • When I consider my description of my spiritual practice:
    • Do I speak the tenets, prayers, credos, and/or affirmations with joy, and do they motivate me to act in faithful ways?  Or have they become rote and meaningless?
    • Is my practice heart-felt and something I truly believe?
    • Does it anchor me during stormy times and lift me when I need a boost?  
    • Do I enjoy it and celebrate its gifts, and does it encourage me to celebrate and share mine? 
    • Does it encourage me to act constructively and compassionately on what I believe, especially in sacred service to others?
    • Is it something I do to fit in, or because I think I should, or because my family expects it?
    • Am I struggling to describe what my practice is and how I truly feel about it?
  • What sacred service do I offer to benefit others, whether as a paid professional, a volunteer, or both?
    • Without judging or analyzing your role(s), list, word map, or illustrate everything you do.
  • When I consider both my spiritual practice and my sacred service:
    • Are they in balance?
    • Am I only praying for a favorable outcome rather than contributing my money, talents, and/or time to a favorite cause?
    • Am I working hard for a favorite cause without stopping to pray about best outcomes and discern wise choices?
    • Do I feel the need to brag about what I do to prove that I am faithful?
  • When I contemplate all my answers, what is at least one (1) thing I can do to deepen my spiritual practice?
    • Note what it is.
    • List, word map, and/or illustrate the steps you want to take to deepen your practice.
  • When I contemplate all my answers, what is at least one (1) thing I can do to serve the good of another person or organization?
    • Note what it is.
    • List, word map, and/or illustrate the steps you want to take to experience your faith through your sacred service.

As you work with this devotional, remember that spiritual understanding supports us in making our spiritual practice a living devotional.  So, take as much time as you need working with this one, being honest and gentle with yourself as you find the perfect balance for your life now.  Save it and return to it periodically so you can reflect on your own spiritual growth and the blessing you are to others.

© 2021 – Rev. Jennifer L. Sacks – All rights reserved.

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