JUST DO IT: WALK THE TALK
“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” Brennan Manning.
Not everyone who claims to be a Christian is actually a genuine Christian because their lives show otherwise. Their walk does not match their talk.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Three characteristics of a genuine walk that matches the talk:
1. Having control of the tongue and of emotions
“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (James 1:27) “Everyone will have to give account on the day of judgement for every empty word they have spoken.” (Matthew 12: 36-37)
Genuine followers of Jesus are people with control: they listen more, talk less and are slow to get angry. Control of our tongue begins when we are quick to listen and slow to speak. There’s a reason God gave us two ears and only one mouth because we are supposed to listen twice as much as we speak.
Being “quick to hear” doesn’t happen by accident. We must be intentional in making time to hear from God. We must make time to spend in God’s Word, to let it sink in, and to let it change our behaviour.
Before you speak, THINK T: Is it truthful? Is what I’m about to say the truth? H: Is it helpful? Or will it simply harm the other person? I: Is it inspirational? Does it build up, or does it tear down? N: Is it necessary? If it’s not necessary, why do I need to say it? K: Is it kind? Will it encourage or discourage?
The true test of the depth of our relationship with Jesus is not our ability to speak our mind as much as it is our ability to control our tongue and our emotions; our ability to not be quick tempered.
It should be noted that James isn’t saying we can never get angry, because that is unrealistic. Of course, we're going to get angry from time to time. The Apostle Paul told the Ephesians "Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger". The issue therefore is not anger, but how much it controls us.
2. Living a life of biblical conviction
An opinion is something you hold; conviction is something that holds you. An opinion is something you’ll argue about; conviction is something you stand for. The world teaches falsehood and leaves us to form our own opinions; the Word of God teaches truth and brings about conviction.
A person of conviction is someone who not only believes something, but they also live according to those beliefs.
“Get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent” (James 1:21) - Filth in Greek means ear wax in English. We need to get rid of everything that blocks our ears to the truth of God, anything in our culture that makes us deaf to the moral guidance that comes from God.
Point of reflection: If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? Does your life carry enough evidence of your identity with Jesus Christ? Following Jesus doesn’t just mean that we believe, but that we also live in ways that are pleasing to Him.
3. Being a person of compassion
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.” James 1:27
When compassion towards others is missing in our lives, it is an obvious sign that something is spiritually wrong, and that perhaps our walk isn’t as real as we think it is. When we are in a genuine relationship with Jesus, the things that matter to Him should matter to us. The things that concern Him should concern us.
Jesus didn’t come to make us nice people, He came to make us genuine people. We cannot listen more, speak less, calm down, have more control, or conviction or show compassion without the Holy Spirit living in us. God sent His Holy Spirit to make us more and more like His Son, the Lord Jesus who gave His life for us on that cross, offering us forgiveness of sins, earthly blessings and eternal life with Him. We need the Lord Jesus living in us, we need the Holy Spirit in order to be genuine Christians who walk the talk.