Artemus Ward, a well-known humorist during the time of this country’s Civil War, once playfully boasted, “I have already given my two cousins to the war, and I stand ready to sacrifice my wife’s brother.” Needless to say, Ward is not remembered by historians as playing a major role in that conflict.
According to the inspired writer, James, we, as Christians, must be “doers of the word, and not hearers only.” (James 1:22.) He continues this thought by revealing the folly of a faith that will not work: “What does it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?” (James 2:14.) His conclusion? “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (vs. 26.)
James reveals no tolerance for those of us who half-heartedly “talk a good game.” Compared with the lofty standard of scripture, the “I stand ready to sacrifice my wife’s brother” attitude simply does not measure up.
We simply cannot faithfully serve our Lord by proxy. We can’t excuse our lethargy by hiring others to do the good works for us that we ought to be doing ourselves. Christian responsibility is an individual matter. It can’t be talked away; it can’t be ignored in hopes it will fade away; it can’t be farmed out to the lowest bidder.
At the Judgment, “every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12.)