A wise man by the name of Mahatma Gandhi once said,
“To believe in something, and not to live it, is dishonest.”
In fact He was also quoted saying,
“Action expresses priorities.”
We are told in Scripture that Christians WILL bear spiritual fruit. Bearing fruit for a Christian has NEVER been an option… if you are saved you will bear fruit in some way throughout your walk with Christ. If one isn’t bearing fruit then that person is not a believer! Simple enough.
James 2:17-26 nails that fact down. It says,
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
Every born-again individual will be fruitful. Not to be fruitful is to be faithless, without faith, and therefore without salvation.
I would say that what a person truly believes cannot be separated from the way they act. C.G. Jung once said,
“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.”
Mitch Albom once said,
“Faith is about doing. You are how you act, not just how you believe.”
But it isn’t just semi-modern men who believe in the importance and necessity of action… in Titus 3:14 Paul urges believers to action by saying,
Here is another way that our people can learn to engage in good works to meet pressing needs and so not be unfruitful.
In 2 Peter1:8 the writer Peter prods believers to be fruitful as well when he said,
For if these things are really yours and are continually increasing, they will keep you from becoming ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately.
As believers we must allow our beliefs to transfer into our actions.
You may read this and immediately dismiss the entire thing thinking that it is obvious… well; unfortunately, one of the biggest hindrances to modern day evangelism is the lack of an evident life change among professing believers.
What I am saying is this… too many Christians get “saved” from the world only to continue to live like the world!
Let’s say that you wake up one winter morning and turn on the news only to see that it says it is going to snow throughout that day. What would you do? I would bet that you take a coat with you when you head out the door for the day!
If you say that you believe it is going to snow your dress should show it… if you told someone you thought it was going to snow and you were wearing shorts and a tank-top people probably wouldn’t take what you said you believed very seriously.
In Exodus we see a promise of an action from God that prompted action from those who believed. Exodus 9:18-25 says (emphasis added),
“Behold, about this time tomorrow I will cause very heavy hail to fall, such as never has been in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. Now therefore send, get your livestock and all that you have in the field into safe shelter, for every man and beast that is in the field and is not brought home will die when the hail falls on them.” Then whoever feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the Lord left his slaves and his livestock in the field. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, so that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, on man and beast and every plant of the field, in the land of Egypt.” Then Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt. There was hail and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very heavy hail, such as had never been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. The hail struck down everything that was in the field in all the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And the hail struck down every plant of the field and broke every tree of the field.
What if the Egyptians who heard and feared the word of the Lord simply believed it and kept on living and doing what they always had? Well… their slaves and livestock would be pummeled to death by hailstones sent by the Lord! Could we say they truly believed?
If we hear and believe then we must live and act like it! Belief without action accomplishes nothing and actually demonstrates disbelief!
What does this mean for us? What do we do to take action in our faith?
- Live a life of worship.
First, we must live like we are called to live. If we understand the meaning of worship then we understand that it is something that we are to never stop doing.
Romans 12:1-2 says,
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
We are God’s creation. We have been bought by the Blood of Jesus Christ, therefore, we are not our own. The price paid for us was steep, so ultimately our lives aren’t our own to keep. We are called to be living sacrifices, and people must see our daily sacrifices out of worship to the Lord.
How do you worship daily through your life?
Do you show others respect? Do you gripe and complain or live joyfully? Are you self-centered or servant-hearted? What do people see when they observe you? Just another person living day-to-day? Or, a son or daughter of God?
- Live as a Missionary.
We are all called to missions. The problem is many of us don’t live up to that calling.
Matthew 28:19-20 gives us that call when it says,
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
Obviously we all aren’t called to foreign missions… but how do we still live missionally?
James 1:27 says,
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Isaiah 1:17 continues on that train of thinking by saying,
Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.
We can be missionaries to a fallen world by living like Jesus did. Afterall, that is what it means to be a follower of Jesus if I’m not mistaken. There are so many applications to this thought that it is ridiculous to remain action-less.
Dr. Randy Stinson at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is a strong proponent of adoption, both foreign and domestic. He tells people that we are all called to help in the adoption process, “to care for orphans,” and what that looks like for each of us may be different. We may adopt ourselves, support orphanages, provide education, or give financially for those who are called to adopt.
But that is just one example of living missionally. We can do service projects, volunteer, donate, etc… We should serve the world and the people in it in order to reach them where they are.
As believers we should be hands-on with missions.
Hebrews 13:1-25 says,
Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body. Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
James 2:14-17 says,
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
To be on a mission is to have a plan. Plan to show Christ through everything you do.
Henry Ford once said,
“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.”
We are to build a reputation for Christ… and we can only do that by doing.
- Cherish the Church
This final point is often either misunderstood or ignored… especially within the American church.
Too often we fall victim to the trap of fighting internally instead of loving externally. We must ask ourselves what this looks like to the world! Why would anyone want to get involved in our “messed up” family when they have one of their own that they already can’t escape?
Do we truly cherish the church? Does it show?
We have all read the love language between Christ and the church as a whole in Scripture. In Ephesians 5:25-27 it says,
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
Christ gave Himself up for the church, but we can’t even give up our preferences in the small things to serve her. What is wrong with us? We must strive to live our lives building up and serving the church of Christ. If our faith causes action then our churches should benefit!
I hate to break it to you… but there is no perfect church because they are made up of imperfect people like me and you.
Don’t neglect the body of Christ. Serve her without complaint or grumbling.
Do we show that we love Jesus or just talk about it when it is convenient? The world is watching us. We are under constant observation. If we are going to talk the talk then we must walk the walk.