Why Would Anyone Smoke?
What does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord . . . Deuteronomy 10:12-13
My daughter and I were recently out walking when we caught the scent of a freshly lit cigarette. As I informed her that she was never allowed to smoke, no matter how badly she wanted to, she rolled her eyes, sighed at me and asked, Why would anyone smoke? Don’t they know it’s unhealthy?
The reality is, knowledge of a thing is not synonymous with believing, thinking or acting on that knowledge. For something to truly matter to us, we must first know about it, but that knowledge must progress to belief and action, or it is simply a fact that we know.
This is a common error in our Evangelical theology. We were rightly taught that we are saved by faith, not by works, so we accept that Jesus died for us but we stop there. We believe this fact to be true and unfortunately that is the extent of our faith.
When my daughter asked why anyone would smoke, despite knowing it was bad for them, I knew the answer. The reason they smoke – and the reason I pursue my own destructive desires – is because we often follow what we want instead of what we claim to believe. We know the truth, but we follow our own way.
This kind of thinking must not be new to modern Evangelical theology though, as Moses, Paul and Jesus all insisted that if we truly believe in God and if we truly love Him, it will profoundly affect all of who we are.
Moses, in today’s passage, insisted that it is our purpose to love God with everything in us. We will never do it perfectly, but faith is not simply acknowledgment of God. Faith, if it is real, must affect our heart, soul, mind and behavior.