change, devotional, encouragement, lessons learned, midlife faith

Walk the Talk

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“Sure, I’d love to help!” Not really, but I don’t want to sound rude.

“Yes, I have plenty of time to work on that last-minute project!” I’m going to have to work overtime now because I’m swamped. Ugh.

“I’m so sorry I hurt your feelings.” Why are you so thin skinned? 

“I’m sorry you’re going through a hard time.” Suck it up, buttercup, like the rest of us.

How often do we say things we don’t really mean? It’s easy to give lip service to many people and many things without meaning it. 

But in Romans 10, Paul makes clear that we cannot just give lip service to God. We’ve got to believe with our hearts. We’ve got to put hands and feet on our words.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Romans 10:9-10 ESV

So, what does it actually look like to not only say it, but also to believe it? It looks a lot like evangelizing those around us. Not all Christians are called to go overseas as missionaries, but we are all called to tell those around us about the Gospel. Here’s what the apostle Paul has to say about those who spread the Good News of Jesus Christ: 

As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”

Romans 10:15 ESV

Truly believing looks a lot like the Christians in the book of James, who are to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. We need to bridle our tongues and not show partiality as we do good works (James 2-3).

But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

James 2:18 ESV

Sincere belief also looks a lot like the fruit of the Spirit. A dead plant does not produce flowers. A dead tree does not produce fruit. Likewise, someone who has not received the new life that is a result of salvation may try to sound like a Christian but will not have the heart of a believer. Our walk should match our talk.

So when our walk matches our talk, we can truly sing, like the old chorus, How beautiful the hands … and feet of the body of Christ. We then become like a radiant bride, waiting for our Savior, the bridegroom.

It’s not always easy, but we have been given—by the bridegroom Himself—all the help we need to match our hearts with our mouths.

Scriptures for Reflection:

  • Romans 10 (get the whole context)
  • Galatians 5:22-23
  • Colossians 3:1-4
  • James 2:14-24

Questions for Reflection:

  1. Have you ever said something you didn’t mean? What was the result?
  2. Who can you talk to about the Gospel this week?
  3. How can you cultivate the fruit of the Spirit this week? Choose one to focus on.
  4. How can you tangibly help someone in need this week?

**This article also appears on the Beyond Sunday Blog.**

devotional, encouragement

Would You Rather?

Have you ever heard kids playing the “Would you rather” game? As if tacos or pizza isn’t a hard enough choice, you get questions like “Would you rather die first or last in a group?” Um, I’d like to stay alive, thanks! 

“Would you rather have your flight delayed by eight hours or lose your luggage?”

“Would you rather be 4’5” or 7’7”? “

“Would you rather spend two weeks stuck in a psychiatric hospital or stuck in an airport?”

“Would you rather have the details of your financial life or your love life be made public?”

Every time I hear choices like that, I say, “Neither!” They all sound so unappealing, and I just can’t figure out the point of the game.

In Romans 6, Paul presents us with a list of either/or choices. But the good news is that these choices are much more palatable! 

Would you rather live like you’re dead or alive? Would you rather live under law or grace? Would you rather live as a slave or free? Would you rather live as unrighteous or righteous?

Yep, me, too! I’ll take the second choice every time! More good news: After we receive Jesus, we already have everything we need to live a holy life. We’re positionally sanctified, and with the Holy Spirit in residence in our bodies, we can live as though we are justified—because we are!

In this doctrinally rich letter to the Romans, Paul encourages them—and us—to live a life worthy of our calling:

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

Romans 6:1 ESV

So, our dilemma is that we ARE free, and we ARE alive, yet so often we CHOOSE to live as though we were still in darkness! What’s up with that? Even the apostle Paul faced the same dilemma: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15 ESV).

For further encouragement, Paul’s parting words in this chapter are our well-known reminder of the consequences of our choices:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

Because we have been symbolically buried and raised to new life in Christ, sin no longer has the same power over us that it once did. Are we still tempted to sin? Yep! But we should not be held captive to it.

So what’s the answer? 

That’s what Romans chapter 6 is all about. It’s a reminder that we are to live up to our calling and our standing in Jesus Christ. As Jesus also reminded us, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Luke 16:13 ESV).

Remember that Bob Dylan song, “Gotta Serve Somebody”? Our actions speak louder than our words about whom we are serving. The truth is, we ARE serving someone. Who will it be?

Because we have been set free from sin, we need to live like it! It’s not impossible or unreasonable. We can choose to live a holy life—with God’s help.

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.

Romans 6:22 ESV

Pray and Reflect

  • Romans 6—Read and reflect on the full context.
  • Galatians 5:13–26
  • Ephesians 2:1–10

Questions for Reflection

  • How have you been tempted to go along with the crowd and made sinful choices as a result?
  • If you’re married, how would your spouse feel if you went out and acted as if you were single? How does God feel when you act as if you’re still dead under the Law?
  • What sin(s) do you need to repent of that are keeping you from living a life fully devoted to God?

*Content also featured on the Beyond Sunday Blog.*