August 5th 2010

Does Belief Have  Consequences?

“I will show you my faith by what I do.”
James 2:18 (NIV)

Beliefs matter.

They affect our outlook and behaviour. There is a British idea that what we believe should be private and not affect others in any way. After all, we don’t want to impose, do we? Not being intrusive is one thing, but not living according to what you believe is quite another.

The biblical quote above is from James, who, most scholars agree, was the son of Joseph and Mary, and thus Jesus’ younger half-brother. He was writing just a few decades after Christ’s death and resurrection, and his desire was to stress that Christianity is not just played out in words but also in deeds.

History records how Christian beliefs changed how people conducted their lives. Pliny the Younger was a Roman governor under the Emperor Trajan. In his Letters, written about 112 AD, he observed that Christians had some distinctive behaviour as a result of their allegiance to Christ. He said they bound themselves to “abstain from theft, robbery and adultery”.

Another early reference is made by Athenagorus, a Greek philosopher who became a believer. He wrote a plea for Christians to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius in 177 AD. He said, “Among us you will find uneducated persons, craftsmen, and old women, who, if they are unable in words to prove the benefit of our doctrine, yet by their deeds exhibit the benefit arising from their persuasion of its truth. They do not rehearse speeches, but exhibit good works; when struck, they do not strike again; when robbed, they do not go to law; they give to those that ask of them, and love their neighbors as themselves”.

So Christianity is experienced not just in future hope but also in present behaviour. James summed it up this way, “…faith without deeds is useless” (James 2:20).

If you really believe in Christ, your life will begin to show it.

Prayer
Father in heaven, help me to live my faith not just by what I think and say but also by what I do.  In Jesus’ name.
Amen

Study by SEP Staff 

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