Have you ever tried to rebuild your faith? Has there ever been a time when your faith has felt worn out, barely able to draw a breath? Maybe in such a time some well-intended soul directed you to James 2 and showed you that “faith without works is dead”. So you were told or told yourself that you needed to get to work. You worked on praying more. You worked on going to church more. You worked on reading your Bible more. You worked on being a better neighbor and a better Christian. You worked and you worked and you worked, all in an effort to bring your faith back from the dead. But sooner or later you found out that working harder doesn’t work. So finally you acknowledge that not only is your faith dead, but it’s time to bury it and walk away.
There are times in our lives when the answer to our problem is not to try harder but to listen more. And not just listen to anyone and anything but listen to God in his word. The Bible says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Look again at James 2. “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (v.26). Are works the life-giving elixir to a dead faith? Or are works proof that one’s faith is not dead? James says it’s the latter (v.18). Some Christians in Galatia had convinced themselves that the keys to being right with God were being better and working harder. So the apostle Paul responded, “Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”(Galatians 3:2–3).
If your faith feels old and worn out, stop trying to whip it into shape by working harder. It won’t work. Works are like the monitors hooked up to a patient. They indicate life and health, they don’t produce them. When there are no works it is equivalent to a patient who has flat-lined. No works show that faith has died. The CPR to a dead faith is that which produces faith in the first place. Then, as that faith revives and becomes reinvigorated, it will work.
You can’t do for yourself what only God can do for you. Open your Bible, listen to his word, and before long you’ll hear again the heartbeat of your faith.