Graduating From Simple Zeal to Living Right

“In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.”

(James 2:17-18, NIV)

 The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray. – Robert Burns

I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that.  Your mind must know it has got to get down to work. – Pearl S. Buck

Plans get you into things, but you must work your way out. – Will Rogers

The most practical, beautiful, workable philosophy in the world won’t work – if you won’t. – Zig Ziglar

If faith is lacking, it is because there is too much selfishness, too much concern for personal gain.

For faith to be true, it has to be generous and loving.  Love and faith go together, they complete each other. – Mother Teresa

Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe. – St. Augustine

Faith is not belief. Belief is passive. Faith is active. – Edith Hamilton

We’ve all heard variations on at least one of these sayings, and the bottom line is this:

Faith without works is DEAD!  Well-intentioned words, plans, ideas, and thoughts are fine, but you’ve got to back them up with ACTION!

You may ask, “Does it really make a difference that I don’t do what I say?  What’s the big deal?”  I’ll give you a personal illustration that’s quite close to home.  For several years, I knew I needed to lose weight to be healthier.  I agonized over the fact that I needed to change my eating habits from what tasted good but wasn’t good for my arteries…while cramming in the junk food.  I joked about needing to start an exercise routine…while I channel-surfed.  Then I lamented about how my clothes were shrinking from week to week and month to month…while I got more and more comfortable with elastic waistband clothing. 

But the truth of the matter was that I was doing NOTHING to change my current situation!  I knew what I needed to do, but I didn’t make a concerted, consistent effort to walk in the direction of transforming my life.  Sometimes I’d start with tons of excitement, then after a few days (or hours), my enthusiasm would wane and I’d be right back at square one – ho-hum, welcome to couch potato city.  (If I had a dollar for every time I told someone what I needed to be doing, I’d be a very rich woman).  So the weight gain continued to creep up with the combination of physical inactivity and poor food choices.  All of my great ideas of what I could and should be doing paled in comparison to the inactivity of my limbs.

That’s where hypocrisy comes in: when we say we believe one thing, but what we do contradicts what we zealously say we believe.  Trust me – I know…firsthand.  Yes, I can admit it.  There’s something liberating about telling the truth.  It frees you from having to remain the same.  So, in this moment of blatant self-disclosure, I pray something inside of you has been triggered to move from intention to impact.  The only way to make this transition is to take ACTION.  You don’t have to keep cussing, fornicating, stealing, lying, abusing drugs, being angry, harboring bitter unforgiveness, being lazy, being prideful, being afraid – whatever your vice is, you can overcome it with the power of the Holy Spirit and a commitment to do the work it takes to change from what’s now your status quo.

Today, I can report that I’ve been working out with a trainer (who cuts me absolutely no slack when I try to wiggle out of sessions with lame excuses of tiredness or eating something I shouldn’t have) – and I can see positive results after two months.  After the sweat (eww! does it really take all of that?  yes – and then some!), getting into the habit of throwing my tennis shoes in the trunk for my after-work fitness sessions, and finally realizing that I was just as capable of being healthy as anyone else who put in the effort, I am seeing health-improving outcomes – and I feel better, too!

In a society full of spin doctors, 24/7 surveillance technology, and people looking for something “real” to replace the virtual, our witness of words is not in enough.  It is our actions that speak louder than our words, our zeal, and our good intentions – so we must live right to be an effective witness for righteousness.  Anyone can read the Word, but a true disciple is one who walks out what the Word teaches.  Where are you on the spectrum?  Assess yourself, and then ask God to help you make the necessary adjustments to live a life pleasing in His sight.

It’s the little things that have significant impact on the end result.  When driving a car, we don’t jerk the wheel violently the whole time we’re behind the wheel.  Instead, we use a series of smooth movements and slight, consistent adjustments to keep us going straight in the desired direction.  When it’s time to turn, we approach the transition and adjust accordingly with pace and rate and speed.  In the same way, we can graduate from simple zeal to living right – with discipline, commitment, maturity, honesty with God, and WORK.

What are your actions saying today?

Ask God to adjust and recalibrate you this week –  you may be surprised to see the areas He desires to tweak in YOU!

© Copyright 2008 by Kayren J. Cathcart