The list of values you might write down, as part of your personal “mission statement,” may not necessarily be what you really believe. No, while we all have beliefs or convictions we may ascribe to, what we really believe is seen most clearly in how we live. It’s shown in our attitudes, responses to hardship, and in the decisions we make regarding our time, talents, and treasure ($).
For instance, a man can give vows at a wedding ceremony and later on, in a Sunday school class, say he believes certain things about the importance of marriage. However, his real belief shows up in how he nurtures his relationship with his wife. If he makes choices to travel for work incessantly and then uses every free moment while home playing golf, fantasy football, or Pokémon Go, you’d have reason to question the depth of his convictions.
Or, we ascribe to the Fruit of the Spirit as character traits that we aspire to have manifest in our lives. Yet, whenever life gets full, a crisis hits or we get tired out, we grow impatient, unkind, or hold a grudge. Those around us might question the depth of our spirituality too.
It’s what Jesus was referring to when He said,
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:43-45 NIV)
Jesus goes on to say that a person whose life is evidenced by actively practiced values is someone who has built their life on a firm foundation—a house that won’t be destroyed by the wind and the waves (i.e. Matthew 7:24-27).
How we live is important! It reflects what is really going on inside of us. Our watching world will become increasingly jaded with Jesus and His Kingdom if God’s people do not have lives that match their confession and rhetoric! On the other hand, what a powerful impact it would make if God’s people reflected the truths that they profess in their daily lives!
How can we ensure that we experience a life that will display this kind of integrity?