Actions matter. But does it really make any difference what a person believes? If we do what is right, even though we may not believe correctly won’t the right action stand for more than what a person believes? It seems to me that we are constantly swinging from one side to the other on this whole notion. Some times it seems to me that the common thought of people is that what we believe is all that matters. Then we will go through a time when what we believe doesn’t seem to matter at all, just as long as we are doing the things we ought to be doing. It reminds me of Paul in his relationship with the church in Corinth. He had been there, spent time with them and taught them to way of the Lord. But as new teachers came preaching the message of Christ, many decided that they didn’t like Paul’s way of teaching and liked others, such as Apollos much better. Their plea was that Paul wasn’t an eloquent man and his teaching was not smooth or easy to follow. They weren’t denying that what he taught was true, it just wasn’t pretty.
We seem as a society to go through those same swings. AT times we are more concerned with substance. We don’t care whether or not it is said eloquently. We want to hear what is true. Then we will swing back to wanting to hear it said with beauty, eloquence and power, whether it is correct or not isn’t the biggest issue. Did it sound good is more important than whether it is right.
Personally, I like to hear an eloquent speaker. It is a joy to listen to a person who can tell the story with just the right timing and zing to make an excellent point. But I’m more concerned with what is said than if it is said well. Obviously what would be the best would be to have someone who is eloquent in presentation who also said what was right and true. It would be even more powerful if the things that were right and true were the needed truths for the time and situation. Some times people tell what is true, but it is feel good truth, not the truth that is needed. If you go to the doctor and he tells you that you have great color and that your blood pressure is just right but fails to mention the fact that your heart beat is irregular and there are strong indications of heart failure, then his encouraging words about the color tones of our skin or the blood pressure being good aren’t very meaningful. We need the truth that is relevant to the time and situation we are facing.
What we believe about God matters. In Hebrews 11:6 it says, “Without faith it is impossible to please him, for he who comes to God must believe that he is and that he is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” Notice, it isn’t just that one must believe something or in someone. We must have faith that God is and that God rewards those who seek him with full effort or fervor. We must believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah. In John 8:24 Jesus said, “If you do not believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” They believed many things about Jesus. But he notes that if you miss the vital point that he is the messiah, the savior of the world, you will die with your sins still attached to you. Later when John wrote the letter of 2 John he noted that some would go on and not abide in the teachings of Christ, specifically they were denying that Jesus really came in the flesh. John called them anti-Christ and said that such a person that went on past the teachings of Christ to follow their own way, doesn’t have God (2 John 9-10). When Peter wrote to the Christians scattered all around the known world of his day he challenged us to be ready always to give an answer to anyone who asked a reason for the hope within us with gentleness and respect (I Peter 3:15). Our answer must be true, clear and understandable if we are to convince anyone that what we are saying is right. In 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 Paul was warning of the coming of the man of sin into the world who would draw away many from the Lord to follow his evil ways. “And all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” Notice, what we believe matters. If one accepts the lie, not matter how good it sounds, it can have devastating effects on us. It can even lead to our eternal ruin.
Truth matters. It is knowing the truth that makes us free (John 8:32). False notions will ensnare us and take us in the wrong direction far away from God. No matter how well a thing is said, if it is wrong, it is still just as wrong when said well. Truthfully, an error becomes all the more dangerous when well said. Eloquence is wonderful and a good thing to seek for. But don’t make it more important than it really is. Make certain that truth is the predominant thing to us, not how the truth is presented.
Now, what is it you believe?