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Click here to read Revelation 22 on BibleGateway.com

cartWhat defines you? Is it what you believe or what you do? If I say “a heatlhy lifestyle is very important to me” yet I have a subscription to Oreo Weekly – including the annual double stuff issue – who am I really? If I believe that the best defense is a good offense, but I spend all my rupees on a bigger shield and armor, what do I really believe?

The book of James is famous in Biblical criticism circles for the number of times it has almost been removed from the Bible. No less a celebrity than Martin Luther himself called it an “epistle of straw” and wanted it removed from the canon of Scripture. Why? Because in Luther’s view (and many Protestants today) the emphasis on actions in the book of James is in contradiction to Paul’s continued emphasis on simple belief. However, what is the indicator of what you really believe? Is it what you say you believe? Or what you do?

ET TU,  JOHN?

Let’s look at today’s reading, specifically Revelation 22:11 – “Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy. “ Some commentators argue that this is meant as an ironic prophetic statement (those crazy prophets, what with the irony and all). But let’s look at it a little differently. The one who does wrong is a wrong-doer; the one who does vile things is vile; the one who does right is righteous; the one who does holy things is holy.  In other words, what you do not only defines who you are, it can affect who you are.

Psychology tells us that it is just as common for our actions to influence our personality as the other way around. For example, many marriage counselors will advocate “acting” like you’re in love with your spouse, even if you don’t “feel” in love with your spouse. What happens over time? Eventually your feelings, your personality, your viewpoint, who you are changes to become the person you have been acting.  If you act like you’re in love with someone, eventually you are.

CHOOSE A ROAD 

It works in reverse too. If you dwell on negative things, if you are consistently tearing others down (or yourself), you will become a miserable, unhappy person because you are doing what miserable people do. Even though you may not have been “that kind of person,” if you continue to let your thoughts and actions go down a certain road, sooner or later you become that person. If you act like a jerk on a consistent basis, you’ll become a jerk to the core of your jerktastic jerk-core.

So here’s the challenge for today: you want to be a spiritual, holy person? Then start acting like it. Even if you don’t “feel” holy; even if your past says you are more monster than monk. You can change who you “are” by changing what you do. Read your Bible; be generous; be patient; don’t watch that show; let others go first; let people walk all over you; spend ten minutes in prayer. You will find that if you behave as if you really trust God, sooner or later you will. If you behave as if God is the most important thing in your life, you may be surprised to find that He actually is.

Let he who is being holy, be holy.

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