All too often, knowing something, agreeing with it or giving mental assent to it passes for actually doing it! We live in a highly passive culture where there are many spectators but few participators. Take sports, for example. There are relatively few actual participators in the Olympic Games, and yet millions regularly view this event on television.
Television makes us ‘passive participators’ in the world’s affaires. We watch, get emotionally or intellectually involved, but it ends there. We are in the end, mere spectators.
We are told that in every sphere of life, 80% of the results are achieved by 20% of the people. In the church also, the spectators outnumber the participators. But God wants us to move from being passive spectators to become active participators.
EXPERTS IN KNOWING WITHOUT DOING
All too often, we are experts in knowing what Jesus wants us to do, but we never actually do it. We say “Jesus is Lord” but we don’t follow him as Lord. We hear about taking up our cross and following Christ, but in practice, we live for self and not for Christ. We are told to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbour as ourselves. We know it, but we don’t do it as we should.
God doesn’t want us merely to affirm it, sing it, shout it, hear it, read it, preach it, pray it, agree with it, watch it or applaud it. He wants us to do it. The Bible clearly identifies the difference between knowing and doing.
According to James, we have a tendency to be hearers of the Word, and not doers of the Word.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.
James warns that faith without corresponding works is barren and unfruitful.
Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
You who say… do you…?
Paul spoke of the scandal of religious people saying one thing and doing another. This was dishonouring to God in New Testament days and is equally dishonouring to him today.
You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonour God through breaking the law? For “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.
You honour me with your lips but…
Jesus quoted from Isaiah the prophet in order to describe the religious pretence apparent in his day. What we do, not just what we say, is what we really believe in our heart.
These people draw near to me with their mouth, and honour me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.