Cognitive Dissonance

"Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith."1

Beliefs are remarkably powerful in that they are to our lives what a rudder is to a ship. That is, they control the direction and destiny of our lives. Furthermore, while we don't always live the life we profess, we always live the life we believe. Simply put, if I believe I am a failure, I will set myself up to fail. If I believe I am a successful person, I will succeed, and so on.

Another critical point to remember about beliefs is that while we may begin with healthy beliefs but if we fail to live up to them, we will experience cognitive dissonance; that is, mental disharmony that is caused by guilt. Because of this discomfort, the danger is that we may change our beliefs to match our lifestyle. And then, instead of living the life we believe, we end up unhappily believing the life we live-a dangerous and self-destructive path to follow.

The good news about beliefs is that we get to choose them. In so doing we choose the direction and destiny of our life. Thus we need to choose our beliefs carefully and base them on reality and not on that which is convenient, or on false teaching or faulty perceptions from the past. We need to base them on God's Word and his principles for successful daily living.

For some in difficult circumstances it may be difficult to believe in God and that he has a specific purpose for your life. Nevertheless, we still believe in God by choice as exemplified by a World War II prisoner of war who wrote on a cellar wall in Cologne, Germany: "I believe in the sun, even when it is not shining; I believe in love, even when I feel it not; I believe in God even when he is silent."

Another powerful thing about beliefs is that they determine not only the destiny of our present life, but also our relationship to God and our destiny for the life to come. God's Word, the Bible, says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son [Jesus Christ], that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."2 Also, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved [for the life to come]."3 And again, "To all who received him [Christ], to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."4

Remember, too, that beliefs are only wishes until we act on them!

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please give me the wisdom to choose my beliefs carefully-beliefs that are in harmony with your Word, the Bible. And give me the courage to always live in accordance with these beliefs and never change them to match a less than wholesome lifestyle. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus' name, amen."

1. Timothy 1:18-19 (NIV).
2. John 3:16 (NIV).
3. Acts 16:31 (NIV).
4. John 1:12 (NIV).

NOTE: Today's Daily Encounter is also adapted from "The Power of Belief" by Dick Innes at http://tinyurl.com/79peh.

<:))))><

© Copyright 1998-2008 by ACTS International