Saying vs. Doing

“You don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.”

“Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on.

“If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.” (Luke 6:43–49)

Words do have power, but only as people act on them. We are saved by our faith. Some may wonder if that makes it “too easy.” If all we have to do is believe, then why should we bother to be good? But faith doesn’t just stay locked up in our skulls. Real faith is not just “yes, sir.” Real faith always leads us to act. If we really believe that Jesus has reconciled us, transformed us, and put his Spirit in us, then we can’t help but start living as if that is so.

What we really believe comes out in how we choose to live. For instance, we believe in gravity. Therefore, we don’t purposely try to set our coffee mugs down in the middle of the air. If we believe in rainstorms and if we believe the basic principles of homebuilding, then when we build our house, we will choose to build its foundations on solid rock rather than shifting sands. Our beliefs, our faith, what we trust changes our lives. Belief does not exist isolated from life: belief is what powers it. Faith is what drives us to act the way we act, to make the choices we choose to make. It may be easy to say “yes, sir.” But our belief is real only if we also do “yes, sir.” What we believe will manifest in our actions.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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