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Through "The Basics with Beth," Beth Jones is teaching the basics of God's Word to help you live a life you love and love the life you live! 


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If You Got Stripes, You're Probably A Zebra

Brodie Hock

"By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." John 13:35

There was a man that used to regularly come into my place of work and in our many interactions he would frequently use the phrase, “If you got stripes, you’re probably a zebra.” I believe there are similar sayings out there indicating that you are probably what you look like. Isn’t it hard to say we are something that we don’t look like?

You know it’s one thing to say you’re a zebra. It’s a whole other thing to actually be one. It’s one thing to say you are a disciple of Christ or a Christ follower and it’s a whole other thing to actually be one. It’s one thing to say you have love for one another and walk in truth but it is a different thing entirely to actually show it in your everyday life and interactions with others. 1 John 3:18 puts it this way, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” 

What does it mean when it says to not love with words or speech but with actions and truth? Well, we know saying “I love you” is easy, but showing it can be much more difficult. The world will quickly say, “I love you,” but as believers we show our love with corresponding actions. In addition to that, the verse says we love “in truth.” The truth wants what’s best for you because it has your long-term best interest in mind. The truth tells you what needs to be told because it wants to see you get to your full potential. The truth, although difficult to hear at times, is freeing (John 8:32). So we as believers are to love in actions and truth.

Be leery of those who always tell you want you want to hear and claim they are those that “love you.” That type of love will not take you to your highest and best. The Bible says, “as iron sharpens iron so a friend sharpens a friend” (Proverbs 27:17). Who knows to achieve that sharpness, there has to be friction. The truth will sharpen you and get you to your best.

We live in a culture that talks the biggest game of all-time, but I don’t know about you, it seems like just a lot of talk. What they look like and what they talk like don’t seem to always match up. Where’s the action? Because we see so much of that, it makes me personally want to make sure whenever I say something my actions are there to back it up.

In all honesty, there was a time in my life where I called myself a Christian, but I wasn’t following Christ. If I had been following after Christ in that season I would have looked like it, and I definitely didn’t look like it. There have been times in my life where I said I wanted to be holy, but I wasn’t setting my life apart to be so. There were times in my life where I said I was a person of faith, but I allowed my fear or natural instincts to drive me and not my trust in God. I may have said I was a person of great faith, but did I have the stripes to match up with it? Did I look like what I claimed to be? 

My true desire is for all believers to walk in God’s best for them. I believe to get there we need to be regularly checking in on ourselves to see if we look like what we say and think we are. A verse that always strikes a cord is James 1:22, “But don't just listen to God's word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” I don’t want to fool myself! I want to be honest and seek God’s best for my life. I believe you do too!

Today, accept the challenge to see if you look like what you say you are. The world needs believers who are resolute and whose actions match up to their speech! I believe God has a wonderful plan for your life and wants to work mightily through you and me, but in order to be His disciples we need to have the stripes to match.

Say It: Father, help me to love not only in word and speech, but in actions and truth. Empower me by Your grace to live a life of action. A life that is a witness for You. I want to be true to my word and true to Your word. Thank You for your mercy when I have fallen short of that and thank You for being such a wonderful Heavenly Father! In Jesus’ Name, Amen!