In the past few blogs we have discussed the importance of action.  We have stated that actions are more important than beliefs.  We have noted that the Bible, several philosophers, and even business principles conclude that actions are the most important element in our lives.  Why?

Epictetus, a Greco-Roman philosopher, said theory is like having food in the pantry and practice is eating the food.  Having stored food does our body no good; it is only when we eat it that we realize a benefit. [1]  He also says we humans prefer theory and word play to action because it is easier. [2]  All of us recognize that actually playing the game is more admirable than Monday morning quarterbacking. It takes actual skill to play the game while anyone can spin theories of how a game should have been played.

Now Aristotle has said that having virtue is not the same as doing outward deeds. [3]  At first glance this seems to downplay the importance of action.  However, it does not.  Plutarch, and the other Greco-Roman philosophers, believed our morals are formed by our actions.  Through repeated activity, our habits, we become virtuous. [4]

Dr. Gregory A. Boyd explains how our actions, our habits, become our character.

The more we choose something, the harder it is to choose otherwise, until we finally are solidified—externalized—in our decision.  The momentum of our character becomes unstoppable.  We create our character with our decisions, and our character, in turn, exercises more and more influence on the decisions we make.  It’s in the nature of free, created beings, and I don’t see how it could be otherwise.  Life, I guess, is a lot like the proverbial snowball rolling down the hill. [5]

C. S. Lewis says we are to take action as opposed to feeling or believing:

The rule for all of us is perfectly simple.  Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did.  As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets.  When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.  If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. [6]

He also talks about Christians being the sons of God and “dressing up as Christ”.  He advocates pretending to be like Christ because it will lead to a change in a person.  “Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already. [7]

Rabbi Daniel Lapin states the path to becoming better at anything whether it be making an omelet or self-defense or business is to first learn the techniques for the new skill, second to understand the principles behind the techniques, and third to practice.  It is by practice that we integrate the techniques for the new skills into our being so they become automatic, so we don’t have to stop and think about what to do. [8]

It is the same with Christianity.  It is only by consistent practicing what the teachings of Jesus that they become part of us, part of our soul.  It is only by practice, by our actions, that we become a new creation.


[1]   Luke Timothy Johnson, Practical Philosophy:  The Greco-Roman Moralists, Chantilly, VA:  The Teaching Company, 2002, Part 2, p. 44.

[2]   Johnson, Part 2, pp. 35, 39.

[3]   J. Budziszewski, Written on the Heart, Downers Grove, IL:  IVP Academic, 1997, p. 45.

[4]   Johnson, p. 134.

[5]   Dr. Gregory A. Boyd and Edward K. Boyd, Letters from a Skeptic (Colorado Springs, CO:  ChariotVictor Publishing, 1994), p. 42.

[6]   C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York:  MacMillian Company, 1952), p. 101.

[7]   Lewis, p. 147.

[8]   Rabbi Daniel Lapin, Thou Shall Prosper (Hoboken, New Jersey:  John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2002), p. 13.

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