How did that go again? “Listen, remember, and obey.” I guess it’s time for the “obey” part.
So – a pilgrimage to the holy land? Fasting for forty days and forty nights? Healing a leper? What do we do now?
When we believe God’s Word – which is a result of reading and retaining it – we will naturally desire to act on it. “To believe” is a verb. Verbs are all about action. Of course, reading and retaining God’s Word are actions, done in obedience to God’s will.
But wait, there’s more! What we’ve done so far is all very private (at least it seems so to us). But, if we have been doing these things, the people around us have started to notice a change. They might not say anything but they’ve noticed. We owe it to God to tell them why. We should give credit (glory) where credit is due (to God).
The simplest, most accessible, and perhaps most difficult step we can now take is to act as a witness. To speak to people about God and His son.
Speak the Truth
We’ve already alluded to the benefits of speaking The Word to ourselves; it bears repeating.
LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?
He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.
Do we do desire to dwell in God and receive the blessings he’s made available? We’ll need to speak the truth in our hearts. But we’ve also received a commission to speak the truth to others – both to our Christian brothers and to those who don’t yet believe.
Ephesians 4:15, 25
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
Since we desire to make God’s word our own – to become grown-ups in Christ – we need to speak the truth (God’s Word) to one another. Concerning unbelievers, let’s look at one of the last things that Jesus Christ said while still on earth.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Christians are instructed to be witnesses, telling others about the marvelous accomplishments of Jesus Christ. Did the Christians in the first century carry out this commandment?
And Saul was consenting unto his [Stephen’s] death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles.
And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him.
As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.
Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
Yes, they obeyed. The threat of imprisonment or death didn’t slow them down. They spoke God’s word wherever they went.
“But, deLaune, I don’t know enough to speak The Word to anyone. I’m an introvert. And shy. And the dog ate my Bible…”
Hold it! If you have started reading your Bible; if you have memorized a couple of verses and thought about them; then you have something to share.
Have we read any verses that command us to preach a sermon in the company cafeteria? Which verse says that we must speak everything we know? (These are rhetorical questions). To start building the habit of speaking the truth, all we must do is to say one true thing. We’re laying the first brick on the foundation. Finishing the building lies far in the future.
Will it be uncomfortable at first? Of course. We’re used to talking about negative things like death, unemployment, sickness, politics. It’s going to feel very strange, at first, to speak the living Word of Truth. Let’s look at a hypothetical interaction with a coworker:
Fred: “You’ve been a lot more cheerful lately. Getting laid regular?”
You: “I’ve been reading the Bible and thinking about it. I’ve been feeling more peaceful.”
Fred: “The Bible! What are you talking about?”
You: “Well, one verse I’ve been thinking about says, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.'”
Fred: “That seems too simple. How can that possibly work?”
You: “I don’t know. It just does. Do you have those quarterly reports that Jack needs?”
Congratulations! You’ve just spoken the truth. You could have kept your mouth shut and let Fred’s assumption stand. But that wouldn’t have been the truth. When Fred tried to get argumentative about it, you could have gotten pulled into a useless debate. But you didn’t. Don’t be afraid to stop talking. If people try to pressure you, you might say, “Ask me again next week. Maybe I’ll know more by then.”
It’s really that simple. Develop the habit of replying with the truth. You don’t have to explain the truth, you don’t have to defend the truth, you just speak it and move on. If Fred really is interested, you can tell him more as you learn more. But it’s a good idea to teach less than you know. That way you aren’t tempted to go beyond into philosophies and vain janglings.
To make God’s Word our own we begin by reading it. But we can’t simply study it as an intellectual exercise – we must hold onto it, retain it in our minds, believe it. We do this by remembering what we’ve read, thinking about it, and repeating it to ourselves as needed. Then, as we begin to see the benefits, we speak the truth to others. This is a lifelong process – we’ll never run out of things to learn. And the more we do this the more we will manifest the fearlessness, peacefulness, and confidence that God will always bring His Word to pass.
Unfortunately, many Christians never even begin. They try to live a Christian lifestyle based on the watered down platitudes and opinions of Churchian preachers. They get the opposite results – confusion, powerlessness, and defeat. Let us – you and me – not end up like that. By God’s mercy and grace we can determine to make His Word our own. We can work – fight if need be – to be able to say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
1 Peter 3:15
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: