I was writing in my journal the other day about my desire to have a closer relationship with God. Not just a “see you at worship service” relationship, but a “walk alongside him” relationship. I thought, what better way to get closer to him and learn more about his will than to read the bible more. Sometimes we think its hard to feel God’s presence or that we can’t figure out his will for our lives, but the truth is, he gives us everything we need for life and godliness in his word. I’ve mentioned in previous posts how powerful and informative God’s Word can be. The words of the bible are his very thoughts. Jesus is the Word manifested in the flesh. So in order to have a relationship with him, I need to be studying his Word more.
The thing is, what do we intend to do with the word of God? In James 1:22, we are reminded that if we hear the word and don’t do it we deceive ourselves. Satan is the great deceiver, but sometimes we make his job easy for him. He’s likely thrilled to watch some of our worship services. He’s probably sitting there thinking, “Sweet! Look at all these “Christians.” They gather to hear a message from God that they’re not going to apply. They deceive themselves. My job is done.” But that is not the reaction that God wants when we hear or read his word. He is a God who desires repentance, change, of actually turning away from the world and following him.
If we’re honest, there are several ways that we can respond to God’s word, only one of which he would be happy with.
- We respond with disbelief (We can hear something from the word of God and flat out not believe what it says. We can assume that God didn’t really mean that, or that he’s a loving God who would not really punish us. Against our better judgement, we walk away from what we know in our hearts to be the truth.)
- We respond with “That doesn’t apply to me” (Somehow, Christians have gotten into the habit of cherry-picking the bible, thinking that some parts apply to my life while others do not. God’s word is perfect. We cannot throw some of it out because we disagree or it doesn’t match the life we want to live. It’s our responsibility to mold our lives to fit what God wants, not the other way around.)
- The word “breaks us” but we do nothing (Sometimes we hear a well-delivered message from God’s word or we read a passage that really hits home. We dwell on how important it is, how right and true, but no change is made. Like the soil with many thorns, we get sidetracked worrying about our lives. We forget that God’s word has no effect on us until it is applied.)
- The word “breaks us” and we change (“The man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it- he will be blessed in what he does” -James 1:25. A disciple is a follower of their master. They listen to instruction, and then put that instruction into practice. Like Romans 12:2 says, we are to be transformed by renewing our minds with the word of God. Only then will we know his will.)
Next time you open your bible to study or you’re listening to someone deliver a message from God’s word, read or listen with a purpose. Ask yourself, “What will I do with the word of God?”