“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” — James 1:22
“It’s easier said than done” is a phrase that has probably passed through your lips before. It certainly has mine. I think it would be fair to say that we have all committed to things with our mouths, and then failed to actualise them by deed. The best intentions can accompany a verbal declaration, yet this is not a guarantee that we will follow through in action.
So what happens in this space between what I say and what I do? Several years ago, a friend and I were involved in ministering to some young girls in a local township. At this time in our lives, we had passion, courage and free time – and probably not enough good sense! This led to us embarking on passion-filled, courageous missions into the township on our own. This was not the most sensible thing in terms of safety, but we are here to tell the tale and I think we are both grateful for the experiences that we gained.
I think of one particular day when I was abruptly reminded of the space between what I say and what I do. We had gathered a group of girls in a shack and were delivering a Bible message on the armour of God. We even had a plastic suit of armour with us and were using this to help the girls visualise the principles. “The sword of the Spirit will protect you against all bad things, so whenever you are afraid, remember that God’s word is more powerful than anything that would scare you. Call on God to save you when you are scared.”
As I spoke these words, I saw a man approaching the open door to the shack with a large knife in his hands. He entered the garden gate, and in the few seconds that it took for him to cross the yard, I was suddenly challenged to cross the space between what I say and what I do. The words that I had just spoken rang in my ears, but did I really have the faith to stand up in authority and use words to overcome my fear and my enemy? I meant them and I believed them, but for those few seconds I felt afraid and unsure. I cannot tell you if I was able or not to cross the space, as fortunately for us that day, the man with the knife knelt down at the front door to tend to some maintenance work — he was not there to harm us.
Perhaps this lesson on God’s armour left a bigger impression on me than it did on the girls. In church life today we are incredibly blessed to have access to so much good teaching and resources. Even the simple act of logging onto Facebook will probably mean that you will encounter some encouraging words from your Christian friends. We can freely meet together in churches, in halls in coffee shops and talk about our faith in Jesus Christ and share God’s word with one another. It’s so easy to hear good words and speak good words, but I want to ensure that I do not allow a chasm between what I say and what I do.
The pep talk takes place in the locker room, a safe and nonthreatening environment. If the words don’t carry through to the field we are likely to be trampled on and lose. God’s words will never lose, but if we don’t do what He says, we can’t expect victory. We need to not only know the words, but know the Father intimately, as trust will lead to conviction, and I think that conviction leads to action.
It’s easier said than done, but that’s the point isn’t it – to overcome the space between what I say and what I do.