James 1:22–25 (NKJV)
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
A person who accepts Jesus as Christ and believes in Him is expected to behave in obedience to God and serve Him through actions consistent with His teachings. This obedience and service enriches the relationship with God and with others. You do the right things because you want to please God.
Like each of us, the apostle Paul was not immune to this struggle. He struggled with making the right choices. He writes about it in Romans 7:15–20 (NKJV):
15 For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. 16 If, then, I do what I will not to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 But now, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 19 For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. 20 Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.
Here are several questions to think about:
• In what ways do you struggle to make your behavior consistent with your beliefs?
• Do you live your Christian principles on a daily basis in all aspects of your life?
• Are you a good representative in how you conduct your business?
• Do you honor your word – keeping commitments and promises?
• How do you encourage others to improve their behavior by your actions and attitudes toward ungodly behavior?
• Do you tolerate or fully accept bad behavior (profanity, immoral actions, etc.) around you?
• What price do you pay in terms of attitude, energy, and environment when you accept the behaviors of the world versus requiring godly behavior around you?
When we are surrounded by ungodly behavior, we are often tempted to blend in or become “one of the crowd.” The consistent exposure deadens us; our awareness level of bad behavior significantly drops. God warned of this influence and impact in the Old Testament. There are numerous accounts of God directing His people to totally destroy the cities of pagans: everything, everyone, every building, altar, and animal. Knowing that it is all too easy to be led astray by being associated with any one who is not a follower of God and Christ.
We cannot be separated from the world we live in. It isn’t practical. But we are called to conform to Christ’s example and image.
Romans 12:2 (NKJV)
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
So while being in the world, we are not to be of the world. Hugh Hewitt has a great book on this very subject: In, But Not Of: A Guide to Christian Ambition and the Desire to Influence the World. I highly recommend it.
Author: Lea A. Strickland, MBA CMA CFM CBM GMC
Copyright ©2012 Lea A. Strickland
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