A gifted local actor was asked to play the part of Scrooge in an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for my friend’s church. The revised story included a scene where his crusty character broke down, confessed his sin, and received Jesus as his Savior. Each play practice, the actor struggled with the scene—for he was not a believer in Christ. On opening night, however, as he spoke the scripted words of repentance and acceptance of God’s gift of salvation, the Holy Spirit moved in his heart and he gave his life to Jesus!

This Christmas season, I wonder how many of us are still “playing the part”—not having truly received Jesus as Savior? Sure, we might “act religious,” but our hearts are actually far from God (2 Timothy 3:5). We’ve never truly believed, and so we’ve never truly been saved (Romans 10:9).

The apostle John revealed a definite way to tell if we’ve given center stage of our life—and all that we are—to Jesus. He wrote, “We can be sure that we know Him if we obey His commandments. If someone claims, ‘I know God,’ but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth” (1 John 2:3-4).

John then lifted up the command “to love one another” (1 John 2:7), stating that “Jesus lived the truth of this commandment” (1 John 2:8). Are you living a life of love and obedience to God? Are you genuinely loving others in Him?

As John said, “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6). To truly follow Christ’s example, we must first know Him as Savior. Then, may our words and actions flow from a heart that reveals our obedience to Him—not acting, but truly living it.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: James 2:1-13