Our character is determined by the things that we do rather than the things that we say.
This is why I like what Henry and Richard Blackaby wrote in Hearing God's Voice:
“Whenever God speaks, what we do next exposes the condition of our hearts.”Jesus taught about this very thing in the Sermon on the Mount:
“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” (Matthew 7:15-20; NLT)Here Jesus provided a test that helps us identify false teachers. The test is to observe their behavior. Do they practice what they preach?
False teachers may teach truth, but they do not live by the truth.
Truth is truth no matter what the source is. A person who does not live a life of faith still has the ability to speak truth. The problem is that the way they live often invalidates what they teach. Their lives will reveal whether or not they truly believe what they teach.
On the flip side, this teaching of Jesus should get us to examine our lives. We should ask ourselves the question: "Does my live align with what I believe?"
Our obedience to God's word reveals the love and trust we have in Him. It also shows those around us what it looks like to follow Jesus.
The more we love God and love our neighbor, the more we become the "light of the world."
This raises the question: "How can I consistently live what I believe?"
The problem many of us face isn't that we are unaware of the importance of living authentic lives, it is that we find it difficult to do.
If we are going to live authentic lives we need to:
- Follow the guidance of the Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23 the apostle Paul wrote, "But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!" (NLT) Following the Holy Spirit will produce in our lives the type of fruit that is consistent with the life of Jesus.
- Be in community with other people. The author of Hebrews wrote, "Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near." (Hebrews 10:24-25; NLT). A Christian community offers the encouragement and opportunities we need to love others and live in obedience to God's will. We are stronger when we are in a community.
- Focus on doing good. The apostle Paul offered this encouragement; "So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith." (Galatians 6:9-10; NLT). We can be discouraged when doing good because it appears that it is making little difference. The reality is that we can't see all the things God is doing behind the scenes. It is an act of faith and hope to continue to seize the opportunities to do good, trusting that God will honor our efforts and bring transformation.
To live lives that honor Jesus and align with his teaching requires intentional action. It doesn't happen by accident.
It is crucial that we read and study the Bible. We need to know truth.
Knowing truth is not enough. We need to live the truth. When we live the truth we demonstrate that not only can we recite the truth, but we also believe the truth.
Know the Bible. Live the Bible.