“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?” James 2:14
Reading James recently, I was reminded of something I read in, Too Soon Old Too Late Smart by Gordon Livingstone. It’s a collection of mainly common sense statements written by a psychologist after he retired. He said, “If someone’s actions repeatedly don’t line up with their words, then believe their actions not their words.”
The psychologist wrote this statement to address the numerous times he had heard women in unhealthy relationships with men say things like, “I know he treats me badly but he says he loves me.” The psychologist would state quite categorically that if someone is repeatedly treating you badly then they don’t love you. Yet the statement has much broader applications and is the point that James is making. Our actions ought to confirm our words.
It’s easy to say all the right Christian things, especially if we have spent a lot of time in Christian circles. It’s also easy to believe someone who is articulate with Christian terminology and sounds sincere. But the true test of spirituality isn’t how well we speak or how much we know but rather it’s our behaviour. If a person’s behaviour doesn’t over time line up with their words then their behaviour is a more accurate indicator of their beliefs than their words. It’s a stiff test but one we need to apply to ourselves as well as to those who speak into our lives.
If someone was the proverbial “fly on the wall” and watched our deeds and actions, would they be convinced of our faith?