Monday, January 4, 2016

The Marriage of Belief & Behavior

Monday, January 4, 2016

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.  
James 3:13(NLT)

James, the brother of Jesus, was affectionately known as camel knees because his prayer life kept him on his knees; callouses (where his knees met the floor) made him look like he was standing on a pair of crusty old camel’s ugly legs.

It was that prayer life which formed James into someone who could write about wisdom with a straight face.  He never claimed it for himself, but he lived it, and that’s why his teaching about wisdom rings so clearly and true.  

James’ wisdom encourages us to live an honorable life, doing good works with humility.  Our faith is an engaging, active journey, starting with confession of sin, and a transformation of our attitudes and actions towards every neighbor.  Right behavior is simply a follow-through, and part of right belief.  Without right behavior, it makes little difference if you have a “right belief system”.

And therein is the point:  if a person says ‘this is what I believe’, but the behavior is different, believe the behavior, rather than what the person says about believing.

Author and Pastor John MacArthur wrote:

…it was the Hebrews who clearly understood that true wisdom was not intellectual, but behavioral. Thus, the biggest fool was one who knew truth and failed to apply it. To the Jews, wisdom was skill in living righteously.[2]

For a follower of Jesus Christ there is no blurring of the lines between what is a right thing to think, and what is a right thing to do.  That doesn’t mean we don’t have tough decisions – but once locating in God’s Word, prayer and wise counsel as to what a Godly decision would entail, the Christian believer has no choice but to be obedient and act in accordance with Godly character.

This is simply putting into practice what God said through the apostle Peter:

So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then.  But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.  For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:14-16(NLT)

In ancient Hebrew thought “word” and “deed” have no distinction between them.  To “say” was to “do”.  This is why John referred to Jesus being the Word of God.  He came as the word/deed of God to be our salvation.

For You Today

Wisdom in this new, young year of 2016 would be well-served to let your words become deeds. 

Let them all be encouraging, uplifting, true and praiseworthy.

You chew on that out on that Rocky Road today…and have a joy-filled and blessed day!

[1] Title image:  By AnonMoos (Own work - Self-made graphic, declared to be PD.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
[2] MacArthur's New Testament Commentary: James, ©1998 by John MacArthur, Jr.

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