Two recent quotes on the Jack’s Winning Words blog seem to go together to reinforce a point –
“We must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” (JFK)
“Don’t tell me what you believe in; I’ll observe how you behave and make my own determination.” (Alex Trebek)
We’ve probably also all heard the old saw – “Do as I say, not as I do”. Yet it is from watching what we do that our children really learn, not from listening to what we said.
In business there was also the admonition that, “we must walk the walk, not just talk the talk”.
When it comes to one’s religious beliefs, it is most important that we find ways in our daily lives to live what we believe. We have a whole book full of advice and instructions on how to live, so it’s not as if we don’t know. However, knowing what’s right and doing what’s right are often different things. No matter how much noise the supposedly pious person makers about being a Christian, if he/she then turns around and makes life decisions based upon prejudices, hate and exclusion they are left standing naked in the court of public opinion. They are exposed for what they do and not for what they have said.
It is not always easy to choose the right path. In fact we are told in the Bible that life will not always be easy, but that in the end our continued faith will make it worthwhile –
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)
The most common error, to my way of thinking, is acting or doing without thinking. It is in those knee-jerk reactions to things that our hidden prejudices and fears manifest themselves. After the fact, we often have an immediate reaction of “why did I just do that or say that”. This causes us to stop and think and to confront those hidden fears or prejudices. If only we took the time to think before reacting, we might better be able to act as our core beliefs would dictate. Those feelings might still be there, lurking in the back of our minds, but we can maintain control over them and not let them dictate our actions. The Bible tells us –
“I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)
“Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)
So then, a key to living your faith and not just talking about it is to develop the discipline to keep yourself under control such that you think before you act and guide your actions according to your beliefs. I know I have some work to do on that. How about you?
Don’t just say it…Do it!