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Get Fluent in Faith

By Sandra Samoska

Years ago my husband and I got into a discussion about what was worse – thinking something bad or doing something bad.

My argument was, “Of course doing something bad is much worse than thinking it. After all, if you think something bad but don’t act on it, that’s good…right?”

It sounds reasonable, doesn't it?

It’s fine to feel angry, but we need to make sure we don’t respond out of anger. It’s normal to feel resentful, but we shouldn’t let that lead to unforgiveness.

And I would argue, to some extent anyway, that on the surface of things – or at least at the minimum – it is usually better to do good even if you’re not always thinking or feeling good.

To exercise self-control over your actions when your thoughts take a dark turn. To keep from losing your temper when the words and deeds of others push you to your limits.

But friends, Jesus doesn’t just want the minimum from us. He wants the maximum for us.

He doesn't want a surface coating of politeness, but rather a complete transformation of the heart.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45 NIV (emphasis added)

At my husband’s work he has a number of co-workers who speak Spanish (which is not a language he has ever studied). Shortly after he started working there, he decided it would help him communicate and build stronger relationships if he could learn his co-workers’ language. As we were having our discussion on thoughts versus actions, he made a connection that has stuck with me for years.

He said that when he’s speaking to someone in Spanish, it’s harder for him to follow along if the person is speaking quickly. He has to listen to what they say, then translate it in his head to English. Then, in order to respond, he decides what he wants to say in English, then translates it in his head to Spanish before he can speak the words aloud.

In other words, even though he can speak the language, he’s not fluent in it.

He can’t respond quickly – by reflex – without a lot of thought and concentration.

If my first thought to an upsetting situation is un-Godly instead of holy, or self-righteous instead of righteous, or self-centered instead of God-centered, then I’m not fluent in my faith. I may know what I’m supposed to do, but when things start getting out of control, my faith is not my first reflex. If I’m really upset, it may not even be my second.

You may be thinking this standard is much too high.

How can we possibly be fluent in faith when by our very nature we’re steeped in our humanness?

Many of my friends studied abroad when they were in college. They would leave for France, Spain or Italy with a halting grasp of that language, but would come home three months later speaking like a native. Every one of them said, the only way they could become fluent was by immersing themselves in the language. Speaking it every day. All day. To every person and in every situation.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.“ John 15:4-5

When we remain in Jesus, we immerse ourselves in Him. We see the world through a lens of faith, not sight. Our reflex becomes not something we have to control to “do or say the right thing,” but rather an outpouring of what we’ve stored up inside.

And friends, the only way we can immerse ourselves in Jesus is if we take time for Him every day.

Not just on Sunday.

Not just in our morning quiet time.

Not just when we have some free time.

Not just when we’re desperate.

Every day.

I want to encourage you to immerse yourself in Jesus.

However that looks and whatever that entails in your life, be intentional about remaining in Him. Join a small group. Start an at-home Bible study with your friends. Sit quietly every day with the Lord, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Read your Bible. Read a Scripture-based devotional. Listen to worship music. Serve in your church, your community or abroad. Pray out loud with your family and friends. The ways Jesus gives us to immerse ourselves in Him are as abundant as His blessings – let's get fluent in our faith.

If you're looking for a place to start, Beyond Women has created a seven-week, Scripture-based, daily devotional that seeks to help you bring your faith into every moment of your life. It’s a balanced mix of relatable, spiritual and practical help from the heart of women just like you.

*All Scriptures taken from the NIV

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