You will know them by what they do, thus faith without works is dead.
This is not one complete Bible verse, but rather a combination of two verses.
Matthew 7: True and False Prophets
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
James 20: Faith and Deeds
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.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.
What do we think about when we put these two verses together? Off the top of my head, I think about things like tithing, giving to the poor, and caring for old people. Those are all noble, needed acts of service that the Church should never abandon, but what if it looks like this...
As so many of us know, Josh Wetzel has a lot to offer this world. I mean, even 14 years after knowing the guy I am still amazed at how he can see the good in any bad situation. What I see in my spouse matters, but it's not what makes the full difference.
In our 14 years together, Josh and I have experienced disobedience with God through the avenues of defiance, selfishness, ignorance, jealousy, ungratefulness, and laziness. We bore bad fruit. If you know our story, 2012 was a big eye-opener to "Jehovah-rophe" or the God that heals. We shamelessly cried out to God because He was, in fact, exceeding what science could do on a regular basis. However, 2018 was a big year of repentance for us. We had been out of the hospital for two years and living the life "we wanted." We were thankful to escape the state of emergency we constantly lived in while at Walter Reed Hospital, but when we traded chaos for predictability, we also traded fearless faith for "flying under the radar." We lived for our own needs and desires and did not create any room for the deeds that could build our faith. We never prayed for ways to enhance God's kingdom. Life became so confusing because we weren't doing anything wrong necessarily, we just weren't doing anything for anyone else.
Deeds meet needs. Godly deeds meet needs in the name of Jesus. The Bible is clear about taking care of orphans, widows, and visiting people in prisons. It gives plenty of instruction on how to have healthy marriages and how to steward money, but what if the deeds men will know us by come from our own vulnerability?
Josh Wetzel holding a book that he contributed his hard feelings to is the combination of Matthew 7 and James 20. When I signed for a book deal almost a year ago, Josh wanted nothing to do with it. He tried everything to back away from this challenge but my publisher and our agent knew that this story would be incomplete without his voice. Josh had to revisit days of his life that he spent months in therapy over. Eight years later, the tears, pain, and fear still encapsulate memories of war and death. Josh was afraid to lurk back into these places, especially for the sake of a book his wife wanted to write. These painful feelings tempted us to quit, but as Josh pushed through we learned that bearing our souls in this way, could be helping people stay married, stay sane, and maybe even stay alive.
Since we are all traversing through 2020, what fruit will people know you by in this painful year? Clothing the naked and feeding the hungry are needed acts of service, but are we willing to serve with our own testimony? Josh and I have no idea what will come from this story being published, but to be able to exhibit healing, healthy relationships, and the strength to face the rest of our lives not only give other people hope, but it keeps us focused. We don't sit and ruminate over "why did this happen to us?" Instead we ask "how can our suffering help someone else? How can our suffering be God-honoring?" Sometimes that big step of obedience looks like telling the truth about your own self so your eyes can be opened to people with similar pain. Seeds can be planted here, and good fruit can grow. Josh's challenge to other veterans to continue to serve the kingdom should be an all-call for anyone who is in Christ facing a hard time.
Since we began writing together, Josh and I have gotten to know God by one of His other names: Jehovah-M’Kaddesh is "the God who sanctifies;"
the God who doesn't let anything go to waste.
The God who could save others with my vulnerability.
The God who cleanses us by allowing us to taste what His own Son went through to purchase our salvation.
Let's resist the urge to self-preserve and pursue service. Our stories not only connect us, but they strengthen us to help others even when we are tempted to just worry about ourselves. I am so proud of Josh for committing to this even though it reopened so many wounds because from now until the day we pass away, we understand that our suffering can serve others. This is a discovery we would have never made without Josh's courage to tell the truth.
When you think of faith building deeds, what part of your life could God use to serve others?
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