In Living Above the Level of Mediocrity, Chuck Swindoll poses this scenario.
Imagine, if you will, that you work for a company whose president found it necessary to travel out of the country and spend an extended period of time abroad. So he says to you and the other trusted employees, “Look, I’m going to leave. And while I’m gone, I want you to pay close attention to the business. You manage things while I’m away. I will write you regularly. When I do, I will instruct you in what you should do from now until I return from this trip.” Everyone agrees.
He leaves and stays gone for a couple of years. During that time he writes often, communicating his desires and concerns. Finally he returns. He walks up to the front door of the company and immediately discovers everything is in a mess–weeds flourishing in the flower beds, windows broken across the front of the building, the gal at the front desk dozing, loud music roaring from several offices, two or three people engaged in horseplay in the back room. Instead of making a profit, the business has suffered a great loss.
Without hesitation he calls everyone together and with a frown asks, “What happened? Didn’t you get my letters?”
You say, “Oh, yeah, sure. We got all your letters. We’ve even bound them in a book. And some of us have memorized them. In fact, we have ’letter study’ every Sunday. You know, those were really great letters.”
I think the president would then ask, “But what did you do about my instructions?”
And, no doubt the employees would respond, “Do? Well, nothing. But we read every one!”
While Swindoll’s illustration may sound absurd, it is no more unreasonable than Christians who regularly meet, listen to sermons, and read the Bible, but fail to put in practice what it teaches.
In one of the great chapters of the Bible, Hebrew 11, the writer reminds us that faith works. Literally, it’s working, active and energetic. In verse 6 the proposition is stated succinctly.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.”
E. M Bounds was right when he wrote, “Faith is not an abstract belief in the Word of God, nor a mere mental credence, nor simple assent of the understanding and the will; nor is it a passive acceptance of facts.”
The heroes of Hebrews 11 were people of faith. They sought God. They desired to please God. And their faith was demonstrated in action and activity.
These Old Testament Patriarchs believed in God. They accepted His word. They embraced His calling. They diligently obeyed. That’s what real faith is and what it does.
Dee Bowman once wrote, “There is a rank contradiction in a man’s life when he says he believes in Christ and lives a life that obviously conflicts with what he said. Actually, there is little to be said for the profession that does not result in application.”
Do you want to please God? Truly believe. Diligently seek. Faithfully follow. And you will be richly rewarded.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman