Why Good Thoughts Are Not Enough

We’re all given to self-deception…all of us, in an array of creative expressions.

It’s why I

  • read recipes I will never cook
  • review exercises to which my muscles will never move
  • talk of plans I have no intention of completing
  • say I will call someone but never do

It’s not that I don’t desire to do these things. It’s more that I’m not honest with myself about the amount of transparency, humility, and discomfort I’m willing to endure to put them into practice. It’s a lie I allow myself to believe that good thoughts are enough without hard practice.

So often those of us in the Church get accused of hypocrisy. Maybe it’s because those outside the Church spot our “fake” with more accuracy than we do our own.

I had coffee yesterday with an old friend. We lamented how the passage of time has left so many of our friends in the brokenness and pain of divorce. Friends, who in our conversation had no names, but in our hearts were recalled as having the appearance of strength in their marriages. We remarked how difficult it is for us to find ways of living honestly into the truth about ourselves in the fellowship of others. The appearance of strength never adequately buffers the honesty of admitting we’re not all we’re trying to lead others to believe we are. Many years ago I recall Larry Crabb saying the best thing that could happen to the institution of marriage is for two couples to go to dinner, for one to say, “Our marriage is struggling,” and the other to finally and freely be able to admit, “Ours is too.” I think this advice speaks to all areas of our lives where we prosper and put up with fake pretenses.

It’s a dangerous way to live; this thinking and talking one way, but the thoughts and words finding no reality in my behavior. There will be storms that pretense cannot endure.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise {wo}man who built her/his house on rock…Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish {wo}man who built her/his house on sand…And when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority…(Matthew 7:24, 26, 28-29).

It’s too easy to be “astounded” by Jesus’ teaching and do nothing about it. Talk is cheap. Both the wise and the foolish hear; it’s what they do with the words they have heard that qualifies them as the real deal.

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