While it is unfair to judge a person based solely on one or two situations, it is certainly true that choices a person makes over the course of his life reveals what he truly believes.
Our lives, for good or bad, are telling the people around us whether or not we truly have faith in what we say we believe. If we claim to be Christians and yet live lives the resemble the world, then we are telling people that we don’t really have faith in Jesus.
Faith is more than what we confess with our lives, but it is also how we act with our hands and where we go with our feet. If faith is just about what we confess then the only value it has for us is a way to escape hell. Instead, faith is to be the path of transformation.
Not only is faith the path of transformation, but it is also an example to follow.
In Scripture we are urged to follow the example of Abraham (Romans 4:16) and Paul urged others to follow his example (Philippians 3:17). We also know that we have been influenced by the lives faithful people. Our faith is connected to the example they gave to us.
What this teaches us is the importance our lives have in influencing others. Just as the example of faithful people influenced our lives, our faithful example can be a powerful influence in the life of another person.
A life that faithfully follows Jesus provides an example for others to follow.
In sense we have to see ourselves as teachers.
To be a good teacher requires us to be knowledgeable about what we are teaching and the ability to demonstrate how that teaching looks in real life. Humans need examples to help us move from theory to reality.
The Pharisees where part of the religious class of Jesus’ day. They interpreted Scripture for the people and taught them how it applied to their lives.
Yet, they missed a key component in their teaching: they didn’t live what they taught. This is one of the points that Jesus confronted them about.
1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples,2 “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. 3 So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach.4 They crush people with unbearable religious demands and never lift a finger to ease the burden. (Matthew 23:1-4; NLT)
The underlying theology that the Pharisees taught was okay. In fact, on many key points Jesus agreed with the Pharisees. The mistake Jesus highlighted was the burden the religious leaders placed on people with laws upon laws.
These men were able to teach what a faithful life was supposed to look like, but they could not provide the people with an example of what faithful living looked like.
Jesus did not tell the crowd that the Pharisees had bad theology, but that they had bad faith. Jesus urged the crowd to listen to the Pharisees teaching, but discouraged them from following their example.
As Christians who desire to influence the world for Jesus Christ it is essential that we remember that there are two parts to effective teaching: communicating true ideas and letting putting those ideas to practice in your life.
When our lives do not reflect the truth of the Gospel then people will wonder whether or not the Gospel is really the truth.
The best evidence for the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are the faithful lives of his followers.
When we live faithful lives we make the teachings of Jesus come alive.
Without our example Jesus’ teachings remain simply a theory – a nice way to live.
Having the truth doesn’t do us or anybody else any good if we don’t apply that truth to our lives.
The life of faith is the life that is lived based on the truth that we know.
As we live out the truth we believe we become examples for other people to follow. This is how Jesus is able turn ordinary people into lights of the world. Be a light worth following.