Newt Gingrich awhile back promised to be faithful to his wife, his third wife. He made his promise of marital fidelity public in order to gain some traction among conservative evangelicals in his bid to secure the Republican nomination to run for President of the United States. Gingrich was hoping to cover past indiscretions with future promises of faithfulness.
While there are a host of Scriptures that come to mind and I will share some in this article, I was reminded of something my drill sergeant said to me in basic training. In his first introduction he let us know what was ahead and what he expected from us. He punctuated his remarks with three words that I am sure I had heard before, and were not original to him, but they had not seriously registered in my thinking until that moment. He said, “Talk is cheap.”
His point was simply what one says is not as important as what one does. This is made clear by Jesus. He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter (Matthew 7:21).” Jesus is not suggesting our entrance into heaven can be gained by our labor or can be earned, He is pointing us to the truth that genuine belief translates into Christian living. Genuine faith is not about what one” says,” but what one “does.” There is no dichotomy between faith and practice.
Franklin Graham has come under fire because he has supposedly questioned President Obama’s Christianity. Graham has said the president claims to be “a Christian and I accept that,” but the President’s position on abortion and traditional marriage are “in direct conflict with God’s standards as set forth in Scripture.” For these reasons Graham has said he cannot vote for Obama.
A group of black ministers along with the NAACP issued the following statement. “As Christian denominational leaders, pastors and, more importantly, followers of Jesus Christ; we are greatly troubled by recent attempts by some religious leaders to use faith as a political weapon.” I’m troubled too.
I am troubled that a group of ministers who claim to be “followers of Jesus Christ” support the President’s agenda to murder the next generation through abortion, or support the practice of gay marriage that cannot produce the next generation. I am troubled that anyone would think these are political issues, and not matters of grave moral concern, with serious practical ramifications.
The killing of the unborn and the issue of gay marriage are at their core issues of great importance and moment to any thinking, Bible-believing Christian. But we live in a nation today where many claim to be Christians but few live as Christians. Many think it is alright to believe God loves them and they will go to heaven and then live like citizens of hell. Who do they think they are fooling, God?
Jesus goes on to say, “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
If this passage is unclear allow me to shed some light. Judgment day is coming. When it arrives “many” will realize their lives were ill-spent, but fearing the wrath of God they will “say” they “did” many righteous things. Jesus will say to them “I never knew you.” You can’t lie your way into heaven and you can’t fool God.
If Newt Gingrich has repented his past is forgiven, but I do not want to hear his promises of future fidelity, I want to see a life of fidelity. Barack Obama may claim to be a Christian, but that is just talk; I want to see some policies and administrative decisions that are predicated on biblical truth and pragmatic worth. Newt Gingrich may think his hopes of being nominated are the most important thing right now and Barack Obama may think getting reelected is the most important thing right now, but they would both be wrong.
It is true the Scriptures teach we will give an account of every careless word that is uttered (Matthew 12:36), but this is because those words are spoken in disregard of our actions. One day we will all give an account not of what we say, but of what we have done, because talk is cheap.