I was reminded this weekend of the truth that “what we believe affects how we behave.” Intuitively, we know this to be true. It is true in average, everyday things like believing in the law of gravity. it is this fundamental confidence that the law of gravity is reliable that keeps us from jumping off of bridges just to see if if it is still true today. it is also this fundamental confidence in the law of gravity that causes me to tremble uncontrollably with paralytic fear when i am find myself in a high place or on a balance beam on Sunday morning. What is true in average, everyday things is equally true in more important, complex things like belief in a sovereign God or infallible scriptures or Salvation by Christ alone through Grace alone. Belief indeed affects or behavior.
Belief often leads to “foolish” behavior. This is an appropriate day to see this reality. Tonight, Alabama will play for the BCS National Championship. We live in a state divided by football loyalties. Both Alabama and Auburn have fans whose beliefs that their team is the best has led to all types of radical behaviors. I am always optimistic of the Tide’s chances regardless of who they are playing because I “believe” in them.
Throughout history belief in the reliability of scripture has mandated much “foolish” behavior. The confidence that God has revealed himself through the pages of scripture, made a way of redemption through the shed blood of Christ and His resurrection from the dead, and called us to holy living as describe in the pages of scripture has resulted in saints who have been persecuted, taunted, despised, and even martyred. All because belief affects behavior.
I was reading scripture this morning and ran across this passage:
Now because we are fellow workers, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “I heard you at the acceptable time, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation! We do not give anyone an occasion for taking an offense in anything, so that no fault may be found with our ministry. But as God’s servants, we have commended ourselves in every way, with great endurance, in persecutions, in difficulties, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in troubles, in sleepless nights, in hunger, by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by benevolence, by the Holy Spirit, by genuine love, by truthful teaching, by the power of God, with weapons of righteousness both for the right hand and for the left, through glory and dishonor, through slander and praise; regarded as impostors, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well-known; as dying and yet – see! – we continue to live; as those who are scourged and yet not executed; as sorrowful, but always rejoicing, as poor, but making many rich, as having nothing, and yet possessing everything. (2 Corinthians 6:1-10 NET)
This is very interesting. Paul says that all of these things that they endure was to “commend” themselves. I looked this word up. It turns out that a better translation might be to “prove oneself.” In other words, our behavior proves our belief. After reading this passage, I found myself very convicted. I believe scripture is infallible, reliable, accurate, life-giving, and profitable. But does my behavior prove my belief? I am intrigued by the passage defining the fruit of the Spirit and have decide to study that passage to better understand it. But I must say that initially my behavior doesn’t seem very congruent with that passage. I don’t seem to be very patient, gentle, or self controlled. The tendency is to attempt to modify the behavior, but I want to do an experiment based on the aforementioned hypothesis. Instead of modifying behavior, I want to better understand scripture and believe it wholeheartedly, that it might affect my behavior. I’ll let you know how it goes.