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Actions vs. Belief

“Do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” (Matt. 23:3)   In America, when we say something, it can sometimes feel like we’ve done it. “I’m cutting the lawn today before the party,” I tell Karen when she calls to check on me. And then later, though it’s still …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
“Do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” (Matt. 23:3)
 
In America, when we say something, it can sometimes feel like we’ve
done it. “I’m cutting the lawn today before the party,” I tell Karen
when she calls to check on me. And then later, though it’s still not done, if she asks about it again, I have this internal reaction: “Ack – I’m in trouble, and I was just getting around to it.”
 
So, in the pressure of the moment, I’m tempted to tell her,
“yes.” My justification: I was going to get it done that very hour, so technically, it was
in process.
 
Anybody with a sales personality knows what I’m talking about.
 
Following Jesus can be complicated like that. We want our intentions to equal our actions.
 
The trouble is, Jesus’ standard is so darn high. Jesus made
exacting statements like, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and
does not put them into practice is like a foolish man.” (Matt. 7:26)
 
You may say you believe something, but as Jesus said, we’re known
by our fruit – that’s what we really believe. There’s a great word that
describes the stuff that we do as opposed to what we say or the theories
we espouse: praxis.
 
You may say you follow Jesus. You may quote Bible verses and recite the Ten Commandments, but your praxis may show that you don’t.
 
NonChristians have enough of an understanding of what Jesus said
that they can spot our hypocrisy – the disconnect between what we do and
say.
 
I don’t know about you, but there’s a voice inside me that always
wants to justify my actions, even if I know they’re wrong. Saying, “I’m
sorry” and admitting my error can be a terrible ordeal. I may look calm
on the outside, but inside a great internal debate may be raging.
 

Do you struggle with matching your actions up with your beliefs as I do? Do you live with the burden of that gap? That’s one reason I’m such a big fan of grace. I need so much grace myself.

Comments (2)

  • Last night I, apparently, locked the keys in the car. This morning, when we were looking for the lost keys discovered them in the locked car, I was frustrated. I never lock my keys in the car. My wife, on the other hand…

    I was tempted to blame her, “Are you sure YOU didn’t lock the keys in the car. I NEVER lock them in the car.”

    I came very close. Thirty minutes later, when Victor came with his magic car-unlocking pole and we got them out, it didn’t really matter who locked them there (even though I probably did it).

    I’m glad I didn’t lay blame or justify. It hurt in the moment to hold my tongue, but it would have hurt more in the long run if I’d said something in frustration.

  • Our small group talked about this topic this week. The passage from James stating that faith without works is dead was referenced. I think most of us view good works the wrong way. We view it as not cussing or going to church or reading the Bible. These are certainly good things, but when we have experienced grace, much more than that should happen. When we have know the unmerited and unconditional love of God, how can we walk away unchanged. The result would be imitating his love. Loving others as he has loved us. His love results in action, and so should ours.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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