Aleteia

Why our actions are more important than what we know

GIVING
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Jesus wanted us to focus on imitating his example, moving our knowledge of the Bible from our head to heart.

It can be tempting at times to treat Christianity as another subject a person might learn at school. We may tackle learning about the Bible or the Catechism as if we needed to pass an exam.

While this technique might lead to some success at school, it will probably not bring us closer to our ultimate goal of Heaven. In fact, we may know a great deal about the Bible or the Catholic faith, and yet be far from our eternal reward.

Fifteenth-century writer Thomas à Kempis comments on this topic in his famous work of spirituality, Imitation of Christ.

What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking humility, you displease the Trinity? Indeed it is not learning that makes a man holy and just, but a virtuous life makes him pleasing to God. I would rather feel contrition than know how to define it. For what would it profit us to know the whole Bible by heart and the principles of all the philosophers if we live without grace and the love of God? Vanity of vanities and all is vanity, except to love God and serve Him alone.

This observation echoes the lesson of Jesus in the Gospel, when he had harsh words for the scribes and Pharisees. They knew much about God’s law, but did not practice it.

The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. (Matthew 23:2-3)

If you want to grow in the spiritual life and draw closer to God, focus first on putting your faith into practice. Knowledge of Christianity is important, but it is useless if we do not let it inform our every action.

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