Spare Change - June 2023
James calls Christians to not just be hearers of God’s Word but doers also. In James 1:19-26 he challenges followers of Jesus to live in obedience to God’s Word. This seems like it would be so obvious that we do not need to be reminded about it; however, many Christians either do not live according to the Bible or they seek to soak up Bible knowledge and never apply it to their lives.
This reminds me of the college experience. Students attending college can look at their time in college in one of two ways. They can see their time as a temporary stop so they can acquire knowledge that can then be applied to a future job. Or they can look at it as an opportunity to learn and continue to learn, simply filling their head with knowledge they will never use in a practical sense. In my opinion, the goal of college should be to take your skills and knowledge and apply them to a job so you can contribute to society. The same idea applies to being a follower of Jesus.
If we simply are in a relationship with God so we can learn and increase our knowledge, we are missing out on so much. Our job is not to sit and soak as spiritual sponges. We are to learn so we can apply the truth to our lives. Look at what Jesus says in Matthew 5:19, “Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Notice this verse has a negative and positive statement with punishment or reward attached to them. The second statement is the positive statement which encourages believers to not only know the commands of the Bible but to obey them. The emphasis is on obedience and teaching others to do likewise. That is the highest goal for believers in the kingdom of God.
This is similar to what Jesus said in the Great Commission before He ascended into heaven. In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Notice that the Great Commission is telling us to make disciples. Which means our goal is to multiply followers of Jesus. The way we do that is to teach the disciples but not just to fill their heads with Bible knowledge, rather we are teaching them to obey the commands. Again, the emphasis is on obeying God’s Word.
If we truly want to do what Jesus has commanded us to do, we must seek to live out the commands of God in our lives. Robby Gallaty in his book Replicate says, “Our goal is not just to read [the Bible] for information. We should read the Bible for greater intimacy with God. God is not going to quiz us in heaven on how many Bible facts we know…Discipleship is not, contrary to what some people think, about learning the Bible. It is about applying what we learn in the Bible to our lives. Our learning should lead to action.” We must be people that are known for our love of God’s Word, which means we must learn it. The question is never should I read and study God’s Word, the answer to that question is a resounding, “YES!” The question should be what do we do with what we are learning?
First, we must apply it to our own lives. This means that we seek to live according to God’s Word no matter what it says. If we find that our lives are opposed to God’s Word at any point, we must submit and shape our lives accordingly. Second, we must seek to teach others. This means we are making disciples by helping others to know and live out the Bible. This does not mean everyone will be a Bible teacher or preacher, but everyone can teach someone else the truths of the Bible in a discipleship relationship.
One of the saddest verses in the Bible is Hebrews 5:12, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,” The author of Hebrews was speaking to seasoned Christians; however, they were not mature in the faith because they were not living out the truth. They needed it taught to them again and again when they should have been teaching others. I pray that you will hear the encouragement from the Bible and seek to obey it in your life. There is no higher calling for the Christian than to live by God’s Word and teach others to do the same.