“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they will be satisfied.” Where do we see righteousness? How do we measure faith? This is a question that transcends all times and all places. Philosophers have connected their personal faith to all aspects of their persons: to who they are, and to what they believe, and to what they do. What does the New Testament say about these things?
Christianity, thank God, does not consider the aspects of who we are to have any role in righteousness or faith. Paul goes to great length explaining who he is in Philippians 3: “a Hebrew of Hebrews”: to summarize, one of the foremost among God’s chosen people. Paul rejects this as a source of righteousness; indeed, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, for Christ is all and in all.
Romans 10:15 tells us that if we confess with our mouth that “Jesus is Lord” and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved. That is righteousness from faith, as Paul states. As reassuring as that statement is, James declares that even the demons believe and shudder. Knowledge alone cannot provide for faith, and knowledge cannot measure or compare faith.
The Bible makes it clear that we are not saved by our own works. Works cannot justify anyone, says Paul in Romans and Galatians, only faith. Still, Jesus declares that those with faith can do mighty things, “and nothing will be impossible for you.” Works and faith can support each other, and greater faith can lead to greater works.
A through line emerges. It is not about lineage, or beliefs, or actions. It’s not about current levels of faith at all! In fact, it’s impossible to predict where a Christian will be in a few years from a snapshot measurement. They could become one of God’s greatest servants, or they could have rejected the faith altogether. This is because faith is not a static variable; it’s dynamic. It is best measured not in amounts but in production. How we were born does not matter with regards to faith. It can never matter, because it can never change or grow. What we believe matters insofar as it is dynamic; that we adjust our beliefs that run contrary to Christ and deepen our beliefs that align with Him. Thomas the Doubter is a saint; he changed his beliefs, and his newfound faith saved him. Similarly, we cannot rely on actions of the past to support our faith in the future. Scheduled or unscheduled, actions must be continuous.
James hits on this point with verses 2:14-17: “What is the benefit, my brothers, if someone says that he has faith but does not have works? That faith is not able to save him, is it? If a brother or a sister is poorly clothed and lacking food for the day, and one of you should say to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm and be filled,’ but does not give them what is necessary for the body, what is the benefit? Thus also faith, if it does not have works, is dead by itself.”
Food must be replenished, not merely considered. Someone can’t just eat one piece of food and forget about the matter entirely. It is continual replenishment; otherwise the body dies. Whatever enlightenment one acquires must be rationed to last until the next enlightenment. This too is our daily bread; be grateful that those who hunger for righteousness will be satisfied.