Imagine you will be re-painting your home. Your Pinterest contains board after board of beautifully painted houses with exquisite color schemes. You spend hours going back and forth to the store comparing and contrasting paint colors. Your life is consumed with differentiating between a million different shades of blue, green, or beige. You finally choose the perfect colors, after days, weeks, maybe even months. With feelings of accomplishment and excitement, you head to the paint store for the final time, eager to mix your immaculate colors and get started on the project. Paint in hand, you head home and bring your supplies inside.
And then.... you do nothing. The paint sits there, in a corner of your house, collecting dust. You never get to see the beauty of what that paint could do to your home because you didn't do the work to apply it.
"Why, of course I would apply the paint!" you say. "What would be the sense in going through all that trouble to not actually do the work?" As silly as this would seem, sometimes we do this on a much larger scale, with much more important things, like God's Truth. The Bible is meant not simply to be read and understood, but to actually be applied to our lives. The beauty is in the doing. James speaks of this very concept as he reminds us that we are not simply to hear God's Word, we must be willing to do what it says.
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:24-25
The correlation between obedience and blessings echoes throughout the entire Bible. The Israelites were given a choice : serve God with their whole hearts and be obedient to His Word (resulting in God's blessings), or, turn their hearts away from God and disregard His Word (resulting in curses and calamity). Throughout Old Testament history we see constant examples of how this played out, either going really well for the Israelites as they committed themselves to God's commands, or really awful when they didn't.
The same rings true for us today. When we read God's Word and, empowered by His Holy Spirit, apply it to our lives we will be blessed. We will be blessed with joy, peace, and (best of all) God's Presence.
Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." John 14:23
Jesus also told a parable illustrating the concept of hearing vs. doing. A man went out to sow his seed. He sowed some along the path and it was trampled underfoot and devoured by birds. Some fell on the rock and grew up, but then withered away. Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked the life out of the plants. And the last seed was sown into good soil. This seed grew and thrived, yielding much fruit. Jesus explains the parable to His disciples:
“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear; but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature. As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.” Luke 8:11-15 ESV
We should always “check our soil” to be sure God's Word will be planted in fertile ground. Having good soil means we are primed and ready to align ourselves with God’s standards. We are willing to obey Him no matter the cost. We won't be distracted by this world or the opinions or beliefs of others. Our heart will be set on God and we will diligently apply His Word to our lives. The result of this will be a life fruitful and blessed life that brings honor to Jesus.
Sometimes applying God's Word is difficult. Forgiving someone when we would rather hold a grudge. Taking the narrow road of purity. Speaking kind words when others hurt us. Standing up against evil. Sacrificing our time and resources to help those less fortunate. There are endless scenarios that will put us in a position to make a choice : honor God's Word or drift with the current of culture or whatever we feel like doing at the moment.
Is there an area of your life where you know God is calling you to obedience? Have you been trying to do things your own way, leaving you frustrated and without peace? Dear friend, you will never see the beauty of what God can do in and through you until you commit to applying His Word to your life. God is waiting to lavish His grace upon you, This grace does more than just forgive, it also gives. It gives everything you need to live a life that brings Him glory. Seek Him wholeheartedly and commit today to be not just a hearer... but an actual doer of His Word. Obedient living isn't easy, but it is always worth it!
Blessed are those whose way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the Lord!
Blessed are those who keep his testimonies,
who seek him with their whole heart.