Thoughts, Words, and Deeds
Updated: Oct 14, 2020
I have a big white-board calendar hanging on the wall outside our laundry room. I use it to lay out our family's monthly schedule, filling in all our activities and appointments. There are also a couple of extra spaces for notes or lists. I use those spaces for inspiration and encouragement. In one I write a scripture, and in the other I write an inspirational quote. It might be something from a book, a song lyric, a quote from a dignitary– anything that resonates with me and that I feel is applicable to what’s happening in the world or just our family. As I was looking for this month’s quote, while simultaneously considering what to write for this week’s blog, I picked up my copy of C.S. Lewis’ book, Mere Christianity. I’d made notes and highlighted several passages when I read it a few years ago, and as I flipped through, a sentence I’d marked caught my eye. It said, “When we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world.” That went on the board for this month, and it lead me to this week’s topic.
There have been times in my life as a Christian, especially as a new Christian, when I failed to behave well, times when I let my temper, my pride, and especially my mouth, get the better of me. A couple of years ago, I started a job with a great deal of responsibility and influence. My pride and competitiveness quickly reared their ugly heads, as I started to consider myself more important than I was. I didn’t like where I was headed, and I knew I needed to adjust my attitude.
Hebrews 4:12 ESV says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” So, I decided to do a two-week Bible cleanse. I started getting up early again to start my day with devotion and prayer, something I had not been doing like I should. I got out my prayer journal and wrote letters to God. I listened to Christian podcasts while I worked, and for entertainment I read novels written by Christian authors, listened exclusively to Christian music, and made sure what I watched was wholesome and uplifting. (I introduced my youngest daughter to “The Waltons,” and she was completely hooked.) Almost immediately, my perspective toward my position began to shift back into realignment with God’s purpose for me at that time.
My cleanse re-established some habits that I’d let slip, but it also reminded me of a fundamental truth: As we think, so we act. And if we’re not putting good things into our minds and hearts, we won’t get anything good back out. Or, as Jesus put it, “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34 ESV
As Christians, we are called to act and speak differently than the rest of the world and to do everything for the glory of God. I’m not referring to a striving for perfection or an attempt to earn God’s approval. (Jesus already did that for us.) But as Jesus says in Matthew 5:14, 16 “You are the light of the world…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” We are His ambassadors and God is making His appeal to others through us, according to 2 Corinthians 5:20. This means we are meant to tell people about the Gospel, of course, but we are to also display our inward change through our behavior, and throughout the Bible, from the Old Testament to the New, God instructed his people to be different from the cultures around them. Like the old adage says, “Actions speak louder than words.”
In Ephesians 4:31-5:1, Paul writes, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children.”
Imagine how different the world would be if every person in it was kind, loving, compassionate, humble, patient, and forgiving. It’s not in our human nature to be like that, but it is in our God’s nature, and when we inundate our thoughts with Him, His nature supplants ours through His Spirit.
Philippians 4:8 reads, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about those things.”
In this year, when we have endured so many difficulties and uncertainty, nothing is more worthy of our thoughts and praise than our God. As He invites us in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
I hope you’ll continue to visit our site and find the joy in faithful living. You can also now find us on Facebook where we will be posting a Bible cleanse challenge! May our Lord bless you and keep you in all peace!