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What’s more important: beliefs or actions?

The Apostle Paul declared we are saved by faith, not by works. In the same Bible, the book of James tells us that faith without works is dead. Christians have lived with this tension now for 2,000 years.

What is more important: the things we do, or the things we believe? Should we focus more on what we believe about Jesus (giving assent to doctrines of the church), or on doing the things Jesus taught (being disciples, or followers of Christ).

The great compilation of Jesus’ teaching we call The Sermon on the Mount is all about what we should do, it doesn’t say anything about what we should believe. Jesus taught that ultimately we won’t be judged according to which doctrines we hold, but by how we treat the poor, the hungry, the sick, and the homeless.

Beliefs are important when they help us understand who we are and motivate us to do the right things. But how often do we get caught up in arguments over doctrines, using them to divide and separate us? How much more could we accomplish for God’s Kingdom if we put all that time, energy, and passion into actually trying to do the things Jesus taught?

Actions speak louder than words. No matter what we believe, the world around us is attracted or repulsed by the way we act. Are the beliefs we hold leading us to act in ways that are more caring, generous, and compassionate?


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