<After the earthquake a fire, but The Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle wind. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood in the entrance of the cave. And behold, a voice came to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”> 1 Kings 19: 12-13
We have all had a good boss or a good dad. When that person walks by our office or near us while we are in the middle of a task they may sometimes ask ” Hey, partner, what are you doing?” They will say this in a slighlty condesending tone or even better, an accusatory tone as if they have caught us “in the act.”
Who knows, in the case of Elijah, if God used an accusatory tone. I would bet that He did. Here is why: Because God was aware that Elijah’s whole mind, whole soul, whole heart and all his strength had been focused on doing God’s work for quite sometime. Did Elijah slump his shoulders, start stammering and complaining while darting his eyes back and forth looking for an exit? He did not. Elijah stood firm right where he was, not because he thought he was better than God, or because he did not recognize God’s authority but because Elijah was confident that his works had been exactly what God had led him to do. This idea is the essence of James ch. 3. Elijah made no excuses, because he could not have been working harder for God than he already was. He did not have to make excuses. When God told Him to do something, he did it. Elijah lived this way for years.
Elijah, just like any other man could have ran away from God when He asked him for help. “Elijah, I need you.” Elijah could have answered by going to the local pub and putting back a few with his friends, or running around town asking his neighbors if they needed help farming. You see, if Elijah had gone his own way, when God came to Elijah and asked Him “Elijah, what are you doing?” Elijah would have been looking for a rock to hide under. There is something about being in the presence of an authority figure that tends to eradicate our excuses, leaving us with the reality of our choices.
The reality is that faith without works is actually not considered faith in the eyes of God. That means that if you go to church multiple times a week, feed homeless people, read your Bible so you know a few verses just in case you have to prove yourself to your church friends, pray over people (who get healed) and give away money to those in need but you do not answer when God calls you, you are not faithful, you are not righteous, you are not holy.
I love you, reader, enough to risk our relationship to tell you the truth. There will be a day when God will test you. He will look at you with accusing eyes and ask “What are you doing?” If you have been going your own way, you will not feel comfortable at all, in fact you will want to run away far and fast to escape the draconian punishment you have been storing up for yourself. If you are angry or uncomfortable right now, then when you are in front of God it will not go well for you. I’m just His messenger, imagine how bad you’ll feel being in front of The Creator Himself.
My hope, child of The King, is that when God looks at you and asks “What are you doing?” You will be able to look back at the last few decades and recollect monuments in your life where you allowed God to take the helm, and you were obedient when He asked you to do hard things. That you were thankful when “bad” things happened to you as a repercussion of your obedience to Him. If you have been doing these things, at this moment you are not angry, or afraid, but you are encouraged and rejoicing for the work God has been doing through you.
Let me ask you another hard question: Have you been taking little snippets of scripture, like “man is not saved by works” and standing on that as an excuse to deliver God nothing when He says “I need you, loved one?”
How is it that man cannot be saved by works, yet we still need to work for God? The answer is in the definition of vanity. Vanity is the act of working towards a goal that does not exist, or will amount to nothing. The truth is if a work seems good but is not from God then it is simply merit. And we are not Buddhists, we stand on Christ, not on our own works. When an ambassador of America comes to another countries leader, the ambassador stands on his leaders and that ambassadors works becomes that of their leaders.
When Elijah heard God and came to Him, he could have turned and ran from Him, but did not because of the works Elijah was doing. Those works came from God, but if Elijah had chosen not to do God’s works, and instead the works that cannot save, Elijah would have turned from God when He asked Him in an accusatory tone “Elijah, what are you doing?”
In James, God asks <“What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?”>
Lets look at <“but he has no works.”>
We are focusing on this because having “no works” from the perspective of the human is impossible: If you are alive you have works. We all know that. What is the Bible saying then? I will give you a hint. It is in the greek form of the word no that is used here: The scripture from James uses one of two greek forms of the word “no.” The other form is a very distinct and absolute no: “ov”. While the form used in this scripture is a more light and casual no.
I assure you “man cannot be saved by works,” but must work in order to have the faith God tells us is so vital to our relationship with Him.
When Elijah stood before God, and He asked the man what he was doing, Elijah was able to stand firm and tell God exactly what He had been doing. God knew Elijah would stand strongly in answering Him, and would be able to be encouraged through the situation. Every man gets to stand before God every so often. Do the work God is asking you to do. You can do it, for He has the thought process and point of view you need that will help you accomplish the goals He has set for you. You must surrender your life, the ultimate sacrifice, in order to receive the ultimate gift: The ability to stand before the most royal and holy being with confidence in your heart.