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The Act of Faith

Lip service is saying you will ‘do’ or ‘agree’ with something and then not following through. You may ‘say’ you like an idea, but if you don’t follow through, you are only giving lip service. Your words are not supported by your actions.

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that —and shudder (James 2:19).”

James has no patience with empty words. Our actions effect our beliefs more than our beliefs effect our actions according to McRaney (You are Now Less Dumb). Those we do nice things for, we like more. Those we do unkind things to, we like less. The behavior is identified as the Benjamin Franklin Effect. It’s based off the actions Benjamin Franklin took to win an enemy’s favor. He asked to borrow a rare book from the man’s collection. Mr. Franklin had a reputation for collecting and recognizing rare volumes of literature. He was aware of the rare volume the man owned. Benjamin Franklin saw value in the man, then assertained a commonality the two men shared. Finally he asked the man for a favor based on the value he saw in him. He quickly returned the book, but the action created a friendship between the two men. His enemy or rival quickly became his friend from this small act of kindness. The act of loaning Benjamin Franklin his rare volume. Kindness is easier after the first act, and cultivates positive feelings.

Bengamin Franklin wrote, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.”

This also pertains to who we want to become. We develop an image of ourselves we aspire to become, then surround ourselves with actions that bring us closer to that reality. Our friends and groups also contribute to who we become. This is why it’s important to surround ourselves with those we aspire to be.

Actions benefit our behavior far beyond our beliefs.

If we say we believe in the Kingdom of God, or the Wisdom of God, but our actions do not change, we are lying to ourselves and everyone around us. Faith without works is dead. Are you faithful, if you have not fulfilled the teachings of Jesus?

If you confess you believe in Christ, but can’t bring yourself to forgive your enemy or insist on acting violently have you really understood what you have confessed?

Our actions build who we are. If someone is not a fan of you, ask them for a favor. Benjamin Franklin suggests flattering them with a request and present an opportunity for them to do you a favor. The act of kindness will cultivate a sense of affinity towards you. The larger lesson is the ability for positive change to influence your life through action. Procrastinators will find more tasks completed if they simply begin. It isn’t required to finish the task once started, just start. Writers find a million reasons not to write. Start with one word, then two, a sentence, until finally a work is completed. As we progress, we find the task becomes easier.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step (Lao-Tzu).”

Practice what you believe. Start with acts of kindness towards those you dislike, you may find a friend.

Begin with a kind word.

Make your intentions known with action.

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