(The Information & Edification Series – Batch 5)
In Joshua 1:7-8, after Moses, God’s servant had died and the mantle of the leadership of God’s people the Israelites, had been passed to Joshua, God told him:
- “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe TO DO according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it, to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law SHALL NOT DEPART OUT OF THY MOUTH; but thou shalt MEDITATE THEREIN DAY AND NIGHT, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”
God was therefore encouraging Joshua to be saturated in his Word and to never depart from it. In summary, he was directing him to do three (3) specific things, which, if he obeyed, God was guaranteeing that he would live a prosperous life.
People often think of prosperity in narrow terms as wealth but God’s idea of prosperity is much wider than that. It includes good health, victory over enemies and things working out in life generally because of the favour of God upon a life or a people.
From the scripture above, God was telling Joshua to be careful to do three (3) things to attract and keep his favour, namely:
- To THINK ON OR MEDITATE CONSTANTLY ON his Word;
- To SPEAK his Word; and
- To DO his Word.
In short, he was telling Joshua that, when it came to his Word, the way to good success in life was to THINK about it, SPEAK about it and DO it.
He wanted Joshua to study and think constantly about his Word, as he told him, “…thou shalt meditate therein day and night…”. He wanted him to proclaim his Word with his lips as he told him, “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth…” He also wanted him to do or obey his Word as he told him, “Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe TO DO according to all the law…turn not from it to the right hand or to the left…that thou mayest observe TO DO according to all that is written therein.”
These three (3) activities were equally important and all linked. God wanted Joshua to spend time observing, studying, meditating and taking in or digesting his Word, so that, knowing and being reminded with each MEDITATION of what it said, he could then DECLARE IT by speech to others and himself and go on to perform or DO it, meaning obey it.
This reminds us as Christians today, that the Word of God, which has also been entrusted to us, needs to be MEDITATED upon, SPOKEN about (to others and to ourselves) and OBEYED. All three (3) are important if we are to be successful (as God defines success) in this life.
It would not be enough for us to simply spend time reading God’s Word and studying it, if we then neglect to tell others and even remind ourselves of what it says. It would not even be enough for us if we spent time reading and meditating on God’s Word, spoke about it to others and to ourselves but then failed to DO what it says. In short, we would not reap the benefits if we did everything else with God’s Word but failed to OBEY what it says we are to do.
The importance of DOING what God’s Word says as was highlighted in the above scripture, reminds me of a Sermon that I heard on the radio on 07th August, 2021 from the Kerwin Baptist Church and from which I had extracted some key points to help me with my own personal Christian walk.
The Pastor in that Sermon, had read 2 Corinthians 8:1-12, where the apostle Paul and Timothy had written to the Church at Corinth, encouraging them to abound in the grace of selfless and sacrificial giving, even as the Church at Macedonia were doing.
Having written about what the Church at Macedonia had selflessly done in giving a gift, through willingness of heart (although suffering a great trial of affliction and being in deep poverty) and that their actions demonstrated that the grace of God had been bestowed upon them, Paul and Timothy desired the same for the Church at Corinth. This Church was abounding in other areas but needed to also abound in this area. In verses 7-9, they therefore told them:
- “Therefore as ye abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, SEE THAT YE ABOUND IN THIS GRACE ALSO. I speak not by commandment but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to PROVE THE SINCERITY OF YOUR LOVE. For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”
Paul and Timothy were therefore telling this Church that, as it was strong in FAITH and KNOWING God’s Word and OBSERVING what it said to do and TELLING others about it (all of which was commendable on their part), they now wanted them to also abound in the grace of selfless and sacrificial giving with willingness of heart, so as to prove the sincerity of their love. In short, they were telling them, seemingly, to not just have faith and know about the Word of God and talk about it and say that they loved but to prove the sincerity of their love by DOING.
Based on the above verses, the Pastor stated that it is possible:
- To be strong in FAITH but weak in GRACE;
- To be strong in BELIEF but weak in the DOING of it;
- To be good at EXPLAINING (Utterance) but not at EXPRESSING;
- For it to be easy to SAY what we believe but not to SHOW what we believe;
- To have KNOWLEDGE but be poor on DOING it;
- To MEMORIZE but not MAXIMIZE;
- To WORK HARD (Diligence) but NOT ACCOMPLISH MUCH.
In summary, he stated that it is possible to have it all IN THE HEAD but not IN THE HEART and that you can love in your HEAD but not in your HEART.
As if this was not disturbingly convicting enough, he went on to state that this is the problem with most professing Christians today. They are full of knowledge about what God’s Word says but are not DOING what they know they should be doing. They read the Word and study it but fall down when it comes to APPLYING it to their lives.
Yet, the Pastor noted that this is where the results are at: In the DOING. This is where the miracles of God show up and blessings flow: In OBEDIENCE.
He commented that it was no wonder that our Churches seemed so powerless today. God’s power had not waned and his willingness to show his power in our lives had not changed but it was that we were not being obedient. He stated that we talk but we don’t ACT. We know but we don’t PERFORM what we know.
This is so true.
The Pastor went on to state that this issue of obedience, of DOING God’s Word and not just knowing about it and talking about it was the hump or hurdle that all professing Christians needed to get over. He stated that every professing Christian must make a choice as to whether he or she will content himself or herself with being full of the Word in his or her head or whether he or she will go on to OBEY it, APPLY it, DO it.
The Pastor stated that if you as a professing Christian, decided to APPLY and DO the Word of God, that you will be one of the few who actually IMPLEMENT what they read and study.
To my mind, the hurdle or hump of which the Pastor spoke is like a triangle with a peak at the top, that being the hurdle to get over, to get to the other side. On the left of the triangle is where many professing Christians are and are content to remain. On that left side there is FAITH, DOCTRINE and KNOWLEDGE (which the professing Christians have) and there is also SPEAKING, WRITING AND READING about God’s Word, which they are good at.
However, God expects and requires professing Christians to not stay at that point but to grow in grace, so much so, that they get over the hump or hurdle and move on to the point (on the right side of the triangle) where they are also DOING, PERFORMING, APPLYING AND DEMONSTRATING. It is on this side, that the blessings and power of God will flow and be manifested.
Procrastination was an issue that was therefore alluded to in the Sermon, where, as Christians, we often say that we will do, plan to do, have the impulse to do whatever it may be that we are convicted that we should do and maybe even started to do but unfortunately, we never follow through in actually DOING or completing it.
To my mind, this could be your need to spend quality time with God or meditating on those verses you typed up or going out and engaging in Ministry based on whatever God has laid upon your heart to do or giving to others more and thinking of self less or it may be simply OBEYING the Word instead of pursuing your own self-will as most professing Christians do. Giving selflessly and sacrificially may require us to give unto others from what we have, even if, like the widow with the two mites to her name or the widow who was gathering sticks to make her last meal for her and her son, we have very little. It may require us to give of our time, resources, talents, gifts, prayers and especially to share the good news of salvation to the lost, which we have been entrusted with as stewards.
It makes no sense to be full of the Word and not outpour it to others in our daily lives, by the things that we DO. As the Pastor noted, people hear us when we speak but they are not as interested in what we have to SAY, as they are in SEEING IT DEMONSTRATED in our lives.
In verses 10-12, which the Pastor also focused on, Paul and Timothy told the Church at Corinth, which had apparently started to DO what they wanted them to do but then had stopped:
- “And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago, NOW THEREFORE, PERFORM THE DOING OF IT, that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have, For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.”
On the importance of DOING (OBEYING) and not just knowing or speaking about God’s Word, Jesus himself stated in Matthew 7:21-25:
- “Not everyone that SAITH unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that DOETH the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and DOETH them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock; And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.”
In essence, Jesus was saying that a life lived simply talking about God’s Word but not OBEYING it is a hypocritical life, as that person is merely calling Jesus Lord with his mouth but not embracing his Lordship in his heart. Obedience to God’s Word and what Jesus has said we should DO therefore, demonstrates genuine salvation. A life of disobedience, even hiding under the flimsy excuse (as some people love to do) that we are not perfect as Christians and will still mess up from time to time (which is true) is a life that calls the authenticity of that person’s Christianity into question.
As Christians, we are not sinless but we should be sinning less as we grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord. Due to us having been sanctified in position (justification) and going on to being progressively sanctified so as to resemble the Lord Jesus Christ more and more, we are supposed to be growing in obedience, not disobedience and as Christians, we are supposed to be endeavoring always, not just to read and regurgitate God’s Word from our heads but to OBEY it from the heart.
Luke 6:46-49 records the Lord Jesus as saying:
- “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and DO NOT the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and DOETH them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and DOETH NOT, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.”
In Matthew 15:7-8, Jesus, calling out the scribes and the Pharisees on their empty religiosity, told them: “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their MOUTH, and honoureth me with their LIPS; but their HEART is far from me.”
James 1:22-25 states:
- “But be ye DOERS of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a DOER, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass. For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and CONTINUETH therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a DOER of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”
In verses 26-27, James went on to outline some examples of what was meant by DOING, namely:
- 1. Refraining the tongue from speaking evil or that which displeases God. In short, avoid gossiping, badmouthing, insulting others, putting them down maliciously with the mouth, speaking filthiness, that which is not edifying and untruths;
- 2. Making time to help and give to the less fortunate and those in affliction. In short, ministering to the needs of others, both inside the Church and outside;
- 3. Remaining separated from the world. In short, avoiding the ways of the world in music, dress, activities and lifestyle (which sadly, have infiltrated the Churches today) and refusing to embrace false doctrine no matter how popular it may be today but instead, clinging to the truth of God’s Word, even if you are regarded as strange, crazy, too fussy or too archaic and are ostracized as a result.
The scripture reads:
- “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is in vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
Among other instructions from God’s Word therefore, DOING these three (3) things (which admittedly are areas of challenge where many persons who have professed Christianity fall down), demonstrate our genuine love for God and for people.
James could not have set out these three (3) general requirements of DOING, any clearer: CONTROL YOUR MOUTH, ATTEND TO THE NEEDS OF OTHERS and STAY SEPARATED FROM THE DEFILEMENT OF THE WORLD.
In closing, since the scripture states that we must prove the sincerity of our love by DOING, some people get busy just doing a whole lot of stuff and think that God must be pleased with this. However, it is important to note that it is not EMPTY DOING for doing sake, that is commendable but MEANINGFUL DOING, that is, DOING that is motivated from a heart of genuine love for God and for people.
Some people do, do, do but not with sincere motives or out of a sincere heart and without genuine love but for selfish reasons. In other words, they DO what on the surface, seems good but they only do it as a tool to manipulate people so as to get their way or to influence them into thinking of them in a favourable way. This is not the DOING that the scriptures encourage.
On the futility of understanding and knowing God’s Word, speaking about it, having faith in it and even DOING good works as it instructs, without having love and being motivated by it, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 reminds us that:
- “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”
DOING, while important and necessary therefore, must be done with the right motive and that motive should always be love: Love for God and love for people. Any other kind of DOING is useless and will not reap the blessings, favour and power of God in our lives.
(Written on 16th April, 2022)