On another occasion I had lunch with a preacher friend of mine. After about an hour he remarked "We've been here about thirty minutes and you haven't said anything holy!" I was astounded! I don't speak "holy speak" to impress anyone, but if I have something righteous to say, I have no qualms about testifying about my Savior!
Last night the preacher said in his sermon that we should "act like we're Christians". I agree with him! Why do I agree with some who say "act" and others I don't? It's like Bill Clinton said "It's what the definition of 'is' , 'is'!" For me it's what the definition of "act" is. My preacher was using the noun "act" meaning that we are to "do something"! In "Biblespeak" those acts are "works". The preacher is right in saying that:
James 2:18 "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. James 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?"Works are a demonstration of our faith! We are to do "acts" which are a fruit of the Holy Spirit which resides within us. Those acts are fruits of the Spirit and are:
Galatians 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 meekness, temperance:" Ephesians 5:9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)" (There are twelve, but a few are in contention).
How are we to "act"? With one or more of these fruits! If we don't demonstrate these fruits we probably don't love God. "Acting" by demonstrating these fruits correlates to how we relate to God:
John 14:15 "If ye love me, keep my commandments."What are God's commandments? Love him as yourself and love others! How does a person demonstrate love? They "act" (do something) which demonstrate love. It's an act not of yourself, but Christ reflected in you. Those "acts" are those enumerated fruits. Is it okay to "act"? Luke wrote a book about "acting". It's called The Acts of the Apostles. It's a journal of the apostles of Jesus "acting" like they're Christians. It is to be noted, though, that they were not "acting"; they were sincerely inspired by the Holy Ghost!
The other definition of "act" is "to perform" or "to put on a play posing as a character". It's what we see in entertainment. It's an art for those who do it well are artists!
In the Bible the best "actors" were the Pharisees! However, they had "works", but they were for show only! They had works without faith for they generally rejected Jesus as Savior.
There is another kind of person in the Bible. Those people are ones who have faith, but it's not "active":
James 2:20 "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?"Many claim Jesus in their heart as their Savior, but there are no fruits of the Spirit. They live a dead kind of Christianity and they rarely "act" in any context! Neither do they do good works or even play the part. Their existence as a Christian is dull! They claim it, but don't "act" it. They have a "dead faith". It's not clear whether they even have "fire insurance" (saved from hell) or not! It would appear that faith and works are partners. One without the other is "acting". Faith without works is desiring to go to heaven, but on the person's own terms! They want the grace offered by Jesus' death, but want to pleasure with Satan's workers.
How then do we now that we're truly saved? We quit "acting", but "act" as if we love God and others:
Hebrews 10:22 "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."Those who are "true", but not "acting" are demonstrating their own faith!
Having a "true heart" means to quit the "acting". We're not to perform for those watching, but have a sincere desire to serve God. We're to exemplify Jesus Christ in our "acts". We're not even to deceive ourselves with our own "goodness", but seek forgiveness for our bad "acts". These are "acts" of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, and are how to know that one is truly saved! Christians are assured that they're real Christians, not posers; not performers in the sense of play acting.
Sometimes Christians "act" righteously and sometimes they "act" rashly. Acting for "show" is being hypocritical. I'll give an example. I most often don't pray aloud. I focus and pray with my mind. However, when I'm with a group who all pray aloud, I do so too, although it's not how I pray. When I do that I am "acting"; putting on a performance for those around me! Sometimes, when I'm having trouble focusing on prayer when by myself, I do pray out loud. It's between God and me only and it's sincere audible prayer. That's praying with a "true heart". For me my prayers will be silent when in a group unless I am having trouble focusing on the Lord.
Christians have a Christian vocabulary. They say things aloud so that others can hear. That vocabulary must be in harmony with the heart or it too is performing. Actions always speak louder than words! Don't tell the world how holy you are, but let the world see how holy you live!
As for me, I wish I was as holy in my life as was Paul! I'm not. I fall far short, but am not going to play-act that I am "holier than thou". I have a simple faith with many weaknesses. I always seek prayer from others for spiritual strength. I am attacked often by the forces of darkness who try to make me marginalize or even abandon Jesus. Sometimes, just as Peter did, I fail Jesus. In short sometimes I fail Jesus and sometimes I please him, but I try to be genuine with him. When I "act" like a Christian, I don't want it to be a good performance, but a real relationship!
Quit acting, but act. Seek the fruits of the Spirit and do it with a true heart. A good performance is not a ticket to Paradise, but loving acts please God.