We know what a person thinks not when he tells us what he thinks, but by his actions. ~Isaac Singer
I think about this quote and I like to add to it. We know what a person believes not when he tells us what he believed, but by his actions.
I was sitting in a tent in South Sudan at 2 a.m. with tears streaming down my face, a tough revelatory conviction piercing through me, Spirit, soul, and body.
It'd been an eye opening few days as I'd seen a lifelong paralytic move his legs for the first time, I'd watched a young child lay hands on another sick child and the fever leave immediately, I'd been scolded for saying "I'm sick and tired of...", I'd watched young women enter into worship and fall on their face interceding for hours for the men who had attacked their country, their families, their friends, or perhaps even them. here I was laying in my tent and I'd just watched children from age 2-27 out in the middle of the property worshipping God in the middle of the night, something that had been a source of irritation and now was my place of humbling.
There's a big difference in saying you think something or you believe something, and actually living like it.
I came home with two great revelations from South Sudan. One was that there were people all over the world, living out that which I had said I believed. Two was that I did not love God or people the way that I had somehow convinced myself I did.
It's easy to fall into a state of deceiving ourselves. "But prove yourselves doers of the Word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" (James 1:22)
If someone read my blog I have no doubt they'd come away with an idea of what I believe. I believe the Bible and use that for the definitive answers and guidance for my life. I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins, that the Holy Spirit was sent to help me, comfort me, I believe that Christ's death and resurrection bought more than just my salvation. He paid for me to be blameless in the sight of God, for my righteousness, for me to have authority, for the Holy Spirit to give me gifts and abilities, He paid for me to have healing. I believe that God is love, so He loves, is just, has mercy, gives grace, is unchanging, and forever faithful. I believe that I am called to live the life of a disciple. One that requires changing to look more like Jesus, slow to anger, slow to speak, full of love, and living by the loving guidelines the Bible discusses.
The problem is that it does not matter what I write in my blog, it does not matter what I tell you I believe, it does not matter what I think I believe, it matters if I live what I say I believe.
Today I was studying what accountability a tax exempt non-profit must have to maintain its tax exempt status. You must document and prove the charitable actions done, you must show financial records, in order to be an official "non-profit organization" there must be proof that you do what you say you do and that you do it with integrity.
If I gave you a list of the words that came out of my mouth today would they show you that I believe the Word when it says I'll be held accountable for every word spoken? Would those words show you that I speak and declare the Word and meditate on it day and night? Would those words show you that I walk in love with friends and enemies alike? If I could give you a replay of all of my actions, would you see that I trust my God? Would you see that I choose to live as Jesus calls me to live? Would you see that I love Him, worship Him, and rely on Him? Would I act in mercy, grace, and love with others? Would you see a person of Word and prayer, in faith, and deeds? Would I be dead to self and be self-less? If you had my bank account statements, would they line up with Biblical standards of living? Do I pay my tithes and give offerings? Do I support missions and the advancement of the gospel? Do I handle my finances in a way that would be honorable? Do I help the poor, do I choose to give rather than to just receive, do I waste a lot of money on pointless things? Do I show God with my finances that I honor Him and others above myself?
Would any or all of those things match up with what I write in this blog? Would those things match up with what I say from behind the pulpit? Would those things match up with what I spoke to you about over dinner? Would they match up with what I tell you when you call for advice or encouragement?
Do I live what I say I believe? Do my words, actions, and finances prove that I am a follower of Christ. Do I live in integrity, honesty, and love? Do I do what I challenge my spiritual children to do, my readers, my students, my friends?
I don't want to say I love God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength and yet my life shows that I love being with some person more than Him. I don't want to say I trust and rely onHim and yet I make decisions on my own, I provide for myself, and I never ask Him for His guidance. I don't want to say I believe the Bible and yet I say what I want, act how I want, and do what I want. I don't want to say I believe in healing, but the first thing out of my mouth is "where's the tylenol" or "I need to make a doctor's appointment". I don't want to tell you that He is faithful, but the moment one thing seems hard I fall into fear and worry.
It's time that our faith is proved genuine by fire and by transparency. If my life were examined point by point as the government has the right to do a non-profit, would my life prove that I am a Christian or would my status be revoked? Would the stamp on the sheet say "believer" or would God say "hearer only".
"but PROVE yourselves to be DOERS of the WORD and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves" (James 1:22)
What does your life prove?
Be Blessed, J. Tate