James 2:26 (NIV) 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
Christian NFLer Michael Vick has obviously been convicted by these words penned by Jesus' brother James, and has risen to the challenge. Now he is calling on Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice to do the same.
Vick recently told NJ.com that if Rice truly wants to repair his image after his domestic violence issues, then he must back up his words with his deeds.
Vick, who has been fighting a seemingly neverending battle against public perception after being tied to a dogfighting ring back in 2007, and then being convicted for not paying taxes on money he made on the fights, has become an animal rights advocate through the Humane Society and other charities, and he has taken part in prison ministry.
No matter how harsh people have been to him since his conviction, and no matter the nearly two years he spent in federal prison, he has tried mightily to back his words up with deeds that show he is a changed man through his relationship with Christ.
In an interview with CBN two years ago, Vick pointed to his trials and tribulations as evidence of his need for a savior. Vick says he knows Christ now, and walks with God daily, thanking Him along the way. He points to how his faith has been strengthened by all he has been through.
"It's evident that I need a relationship with Jesus Christ. Just look at everything that I've been through. Look at my walk. Look at how I've been able to come back. Look at what I've been given. Even in my darkest moments, those are the times when you need to lean on Christ. Why wouldn't you? Who else are you going to lean on," Vick told CBN.
Rice was arrested on February 15 of this year, after he allegedly knocked out fiancée Janay Palmer during an altercation at an Atlantic City hotel. Shortly after, video surfaced showing Rice dragging an unconscious Palmer out of an elevator, and then walking off when security showed up. The couple has since married, and Rice has apologized publicly and promised to become an "ambassador" against domestic violence.
Obviously the crimes the two men committed are not the same, but the chance they both now have to resurrect their faith, and to help others rise up out of a sinful past is quite similar.
If Rice it to look at Vick's example as one going toward redemption and sanctification, as Vick follows Christ to that end, then Vick has some words of advice for the young player.
"I think the most important thing that you can do is to try to make amends for what you've done," Vick told NJ.com. "I think you have to show people that you're trying to help yourself and bring awareness to that situation to help others, to prevent it. You've got to become an advocate."
Following the example of Christ before him, Vick is trying to take something negative and use it to be a positive.
"You've got to continue to make amends," Vick said. "Once you start something, you can never go back. I feel like I've become an advocate of animal welfare, and I think I have to continue that.
"It's all about keeping kids 15 years from now from doing the same. We've saved a lot of kids, and we've saved a lot of animals. That's how I feel. Ray will make it right. He'll do everything he can to make this situation whole again."
Follow Don Pittman on twitter @DonaldPittman.