The following post is by Family Council staff member David Cox.
Want to know the secret to ruining your credibility?
Sure, there are a lot of ways you could ruin it. In fact, it’s easier to ruin credibility than to build it. But one of the simplest ways to blow your credibility is with six words: “I agree with you personally, but…”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Christians use those words:
- “I agree with you personally, but I can’t preach about that issue or my church will fire me.”
- “I agree with you personally, but I’m still not going to vote for that measure.”
- “I agree with you personally, but it’ll offend my friends if I voice my actual opinion.”
- “I agree with you personally, but I’d really rather just keep my head down and not draw a lot of negative attention to myself.”
- “I agree with you personally, but I’d rather not be associated with some of the people who support that issue.”
Do you know what I hear when people use those words? “I believe something, but not enough to act on it. I have a conviction, but I don’t have the courage to live it out.”
Here’s the truth: If you’re unwilling to act on your beliefs, I have to wonder whether you actually believe what you say you do.
I think James said it best when he asked, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?”
I think James probably heard a lot of “I agree with you personally, but,” in the early church:
- I agree with you personally that starving people need to be fed, but I just don’t want to help right now.
- I agree with you personally that destitute people need our help, but I’d rather my family didn’t associate me with poor people.
- I agree with you personally that our church shouldn’t favor wealthy people over poor people, but a wealthy person can do so much more for our church in the long-run.
What does it profit if you believe marriage is a sacred institution, but do nothing to stop our out-of-control divorce rate? What does it profit if you believe marriage ought to be between a man and a woman, but are unwilling to say so for fear of offending a friend or family member? What does it profit if you believe abortion is murder, but never do a thing to prevent the five thousand abortions that happen in Arkansas every year?
What does it profit if you say you have biblical values, but you never let those values impact your actions?
A person who acts on their convictions has tremendous credibility—even in the eyes of people who disagree with those convictions. A person who says they have convictions, but never acts on them has very little credibility with anyone.