“If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.”
– John 13:17 (Jesus speaking)
One of the easiest errors disciples of Jesus Christ can make is to think that being a disciple is strictly a matter of how much knowledge one accumulates about Jesus or the Bible. Knowledge accumulated but not acted upon is actually worse than ignorance.
In Jesus’ extended indictment of the Pharisees, their failure to act upon what they knew was listed first:
Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.
– Matthew 23:1-3 (emphasis added)
Similarly, the very first psalm makes the point that it is the doing of the teaching of the Lord that brings the positive response of the Lord:
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
– Psalm 1:1-3 (emphasis added)
Thus, one can meditate on the words of the Lord all day long if he wants, but failure to act on that knowledge keeps the blessing at bay.
On this critical point, the Lord’s brother James repeats the warning:
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
– James 1:23-25 (emphasis added)
Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is a matter of what you do with what you know.
(Remember that prayer is more about listening than talking. Use the words below to start yourself, but then allow time to reflect more on the Scripture above before you say the “Amen.” During that time of quiet reflection, let God shape your thoughts and wait for a sense of peace to come. That’s your signal to say “Amen” and go forth to the day.)
Lord Jesus, open my eyes to things I’ve learned from You but failed to act upon…(this is where you remain quiet to let Him work in your thoughts)… Amen.
(All scriptures, unless otherwise noted, are taken from the NASB.)