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Leading people into a maturing new life in Jesus Christ

The Power and Weakness of Behavior

Once there were two people who professed to believe the same truths: God loves me; Jesus lives for me; the Spirit gives me new life. So why is one of these people generous, patient and kind, while the other is bitter, unhappy and blames everyone else for their problems?

The simple answer is — these two people don’t really believe these truths to the same degree.

One degree of belief can be called political. This doesn’t have anything to do with who I vote for or what social positions I support. “Political” refers to those beliefs we proclaim publicly in any area of life, those statements we want other people to think we believe.

Someone might say, “Oh, I love your dress” — when he or she really may not like or dislike it at all. The complement is given to gain the approval of the person they are flattering.

Another level of belief is personal. These are convictions we really do believe we value highly. Or at the least, we are really sincere about them when we say them. Jesus’ disciple Peter told Jesus that he would never betray him. I believe Peter was sincere, but he didn’t really know himself. Just a few hours later he did the very thing he sincerely believed he would never do — deny Jesus publicly.

Finally, there is the foundational, or core, level of beliefs. These are the things we really do believe. These are the convictions about reality that really control our behavior. And these beliefs are revealed by one thing only — what we actually do. Our behavior will ultimately reveal what we really value and put first in life.

Peter didn’t put Jesus first. Instead, he watched out for number one. His real belief was that he would be better off lying about being a follower of Jesus than to let his detractors take him captive. Later, of course, Peter actually went to the cross for his transformed belief in Christ.

A maturing Christian is able to be objective about who he or she is. And they know a most valuable truth: while it is the way we actually live from day to day that reveals our deepest values, it is fruitless to try and change our behavior as a solution to who we are. The real solution is to develop an ongoing life of consistent interaction with Jesus at a very practical level. As we live with and learn from him, he changes us from the inside out. Our motives change and so does our way of living. And we experience the true joy of life in the kingdom.

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Contributed by Pastor Larry Zuchowski


2 Comments

  1. Great hook! It got me to read the article. So true! Love the online edition!

  2. Oh, to spend every waking moment walking with, listening to, interacting with – Jesus, in person!! Yet, it is possible to still walk, listen, and interact with Him – through reading His Holy word, speaking to – and fellowshipping with – Him in prayer, and hearing Him through the Holy Spirit’s work on my heart and mind. Oh, for MORE of HIM, and LESS of ME!! Praise Him, for HE is GOOD!!! Thank you for the message, Pastor Larry! (BTW, yes, this online version is fantastic!! Thank you, all involved!!)

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