What I Do vs. What I Believe Pt. 3 July 18, 2011
I’ve been arguing that our actions never contradict our real beliefs; they simply manifest them. But the question that really intrigues me is why our actions so often show that we don’t really believe what we say we believe. What are the greatest hindrances to believing, and thus living, what we say we believe? Last week I gave one answer. Here are a couple more:
2. We tend to live for the present more than the future. Sure, we’re aware that God says sin is bad for us, but that seems so doubtful when we’re caught up in the dailyness of life. After all, sin doesn’t usually bring immediate consequences. We fail to remember the big picture. For example, our sinful coveting might be setting us up for financial disaster, or our sinful anger might be fracturing our relationships, or our sinful laziness might be getting noticed by our employer. Disaster is right around the corner; but since we can’t see it, we don’t really believe it. The present seems so much more real than the future. Or, to put it another way, we believe our experience of the present more than we believe God’s prediction of the future. Once again, the problem lies in what we believe.
3. We live by our own assessment of ourselves more than by the Bible’s assessment of us. We tend to rationalize away verses that convict us, rather than seeing them as indictments of us personally. We apply some verses to other people: “Give money? That’s for people who actually have some extra.” Or we excuse ourselves on the basis of a good heart: “Disciple my kids? Well, I really want to. Is that good enough?” Or we postpone our obedience: “Witness? I will, when unsaved people begin dropping into my life.” Or we present God with conditions: “Ask for my wife’s forgiveness? OK, I will, right after she asks me for mine.”
In other words, we often fail to live out what we say we believe because we excuse our behavior as “not the real me.” Or, to put it another way, we tend to believe our own excuses for our sinful actions more than we believe God’s indictment of our sinful actions. Yet once more, the problem lies in what we believe.