Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Thursday, November 03, 2016

The Application Test

This is a follow-up to my last post on meditation; it is written by Roy Knecht.

"No one lights a lamp and hides it in a jar or puts it under a bed. Instead he puts it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out in to the open. Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him." (Luke 8:16-18)

This teaching of Jesus comes on the heels of the well-known parable of the sower and the seed. After the parable, the Lord’s disciples did not understand its meaning. They approached Jesus and asked him for an explanation. Jesus replied that there are four ways of hearing the Word of God: three bad and one good.

The one good hearer is set apart by 1) his noble and good heart, 2) his ability to retain what he heard from God, and 3) his response to what he hears, which means to put it into practice, exercising perseverance. The Word of God thrives in such a person.

Jesus then applies this same principle in the following verses. The picture of a lamp on a stand is one Jesus has used before. In Matthew 5:14-16, He tells His followers that they are to be as a lamp put in its stand, shedding light for all to see. They are to shine before men in their godly deeds, bringing praise to God for the way they lead their lives. The unavoidable result of a Christian living the Word of God is that he or she is going to be noticed.

Jesus uses the picture of hiding a lamp under a bushel to illustrate this. Suppose you invite a friend over for dinner one evening. He arrives and discovers that the apartment is completely dark. When he asks you to turn on a light, you reply that it is already on. “Where?” “Under the bed,” you reply. Your friend would think you are a bit silly to have a light on and hidden. A lamp is only a lamp if it is put out in the open. But if it is out in the open, what happens? People see it.

Our motives for hearing God’s Word will be shown for what they are, just as a light switch is either on or off. If you are listening to God’s Word with the intent of putting it into practice, you will shine like a lamp put on its stand. If you are unwilling to do what God says, you cannot shine. No matter how well you try to fake it, your motives will be found out when application time rolls around.

Perseverance is patient endurance. By its very nature, it occurs during times of testing. The work of patience is to bring about maturity in the believer. A mature Christian is one whose life is characterized by his becoming more and more like Jesus. He “has” (verse 18a), and he is receiving more all the time. The sad thing about the person who “has not” is that he thinks he has (verse 18b). This is the same person who can quote all the right verses, but the same verses are not applied when the testing comes. A baseball player standing at home plate with a bat in his hands may be able to call a strike as well as the umpire. But his job is not to describe the pitch. His job is to hit it. God gives us instructions and sends us to the batters’ box to hit, not to repeat the instructions.

Commit yourself today to applying the Word of God as soon as you hear it. Do not be deceived into thinking that hearing is doing (James 1:22). The one who is not committed to application will find that when the heat is on, he cannot handle it. He cannot “quote away” the difficulty, so, sadly, he perceives the Word of God as inadequate for handling his particular problem and chucks it. Later he defends himself with phrases like, “After all, I’m only human,” or, “Well, my problem is unique.”

In Luke 8:19-21, Jesus emphasizes this teaching on perseverance and motives. His mother and brothers are unable to come to Him because of the crowd. Jesus says his true family, those who are closest to Him, are those who hear God’s Word and put it into practice.

Next time you open your Bible, ask yourself, “Am I willing and ready to do what it says?” If you are not, then get willing. Do not go any further until you are. Consider carefully how you listen.

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