You are what you eat. We’ve all heard that saying before and we understand what it means, if you eat junk all the time and are gluttonous, your body is affected negatively. And if you eat healthy foods in healthy amounts, your body is affected positively. But how about this one—you are what you believe? Ever heard that? Me neither, but that doesn’t make it any less true. What we believe affects who we are and how we act.
Over the years, I like many parents have said lots of things to my kids. Things like, I love you, Jesus loves you, God will always be with you, our bodies are the temple of God, etc. I want them to believe those things. But just saying it, doesn’t mean they are going to believe it. And just saying it doesn’t show that I believe it. I have to do something about it. So I hug on them, love on them, discipline them, teach them right from wrong, tell them why it is important to eat well and exercise as well as show them with what I do. I take them to church read the Bible with them, pray with them, read the Bible myself and set an example, point out ways that God has been gracious and loving to us, ways he has healed us, provided for us and helped us.
Without going into too much detail, I have been impressed by a couple of things that Anne has done over the last couple of weeks that showed me how some of the things that I have been teaching her to believe, she has actually taken to heart and I have watched her not only stand up for those beliefs, but actually do something about them. And there wasn’t a reward waiting, or praise forthcoming for her to do it. She did it simply because she believed it was the right thing to do.
As I talked with Anne about this and about her selfless motivation to stand up for what she believed in, I was struck by this thought—what do I believe in strongly enough to do something about? Shouldn’t it be Christ? Shouldn’t I be so convicted that people need Jesus that I can’t help but do something about it?
As I read some passages about how faith and works go together, both from some letters in the Bible and from some of Jesus’ words, I started thinking of it this way: what we believe shows in our actions, AND our actions show what we believe.
Think about these:
- What I believe about death affects how I act around it and how I grieve. If death is the end of all life, then I grieve without hope. If I believe that there is eternal life with Christ, then I have hope and joy even in the midst of my grief.
- If I believe that all I have belongs to God, then I will be more willing to give generously. If I believe that it is all mine, then I will want to hold tightly and give only what is required—or give nothing at all.
- If I believe that God has entrusted me with these children to raise , then I will raise them with His help and guidance and will understand that I cannot do it on my own. If they are just my offspring, I may want them to be good kids, but I will try to do it all on my own and will give up when what I try doesn’t work the way I think it should.
- If I believe that our Christian walk must happen in community, then I will be faithful to church and to meeting with other Christians. But if I believe I can make it on my own, I will not be faithful to anyone else, and ultimately will not be faithful to Christ.
- If I believe that the Bible means it when it tells us to care for the poor, orphan, and widow, I will do something about it no matter the cost to me. But if I believe that I have to look out for number 1, I will do just that, despite the cost to those in need.
And each of these can be turned around as well: if I disregard the poor, orphan and the widow, then I am showing that I believe that I am to look out for number one.
What we believe determines our actions, and our actions tell us what it is we believe.
Our actions also tell others what it is we believe. Why else do you think that the world has such a poor view of who Christians are? If it is true that actions speak louder than words, then we shouldn’t be surprised when the world doesn’t want to hear what we have to say because of the way our actions are speaking for us when we ignore the plight of the needy, are cruel to people who believe differently than we do, give the impression to all that we have it all together and won’t accept anyone who doesn’t.
So now what? I would suggest to you that there are three things to consider:
- Know what you believe—examine your actions and your motives. When you look at your actions, what beliefs are showing through? When others watch you, what would they say that you believe?
- If what is showing through in your actions isn’t what you think should be showing through, spend some time with God asking him to help you believe what is true, spend some time in His word and ask Him to fill you with His Spirit—remember—out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
- Let the belief that God places in your heart spill over into action. There can’t be worry about whether or not to do something because of what people will think, or the fear of failure, or the enormity of the issue.
All in all, what we say we believe must line up with what we do about that belief.
We can’t just believe. We have to move that belief into action. We aren’t just supposed to believe that God exists, that Jesus is the son of God, and that the Church is supposed to bring Jesus to a hurting world. We have to actually follow Jesus, be like Him, do what He did. We have to be so convinced of what we believe that we have to go out and do something about it.