“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do,” advised H. Jackson Brown, Jr. best known for his inspirational book, “Life’s Little Instruction Book,”
“So throw off the bowlines,” Brown wrote, “Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Determined, specific and focused action is necessary for success in any endeavor. This is true in the sports arena, the world of business, and also in the spiritual realm.
The inspired writer James expressed and illustrated the importance of action this way:
“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (Jas. 2:14-17).
Too often we become embroiled in the theological discussion of whether salvation is by faith or works, but then fail to act on what we claim to believe. It’s not enough to hold the correct Biblical position on this issue. Our profession of faith must be proven by our performance. Unfortunately, Mark Twain was correct when he quipped, “Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.”
Good deeds are preceded by godly thoughts. Thus the apostle Peter admonished, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled” (1 Pet. 1:13).
Right thinking combined with responsive actions results in a righteous reward. Both in this life and the one to come. The Scottish author Samuel Smiles provided this insight: “Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.”
“One of the great tragedies of life,” observed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “is that men seldom bridge the gulf between practice and profession, between doing and saying.” King further added “A persistent schizophrenia leaves so many of us tragically divided against ourselves. On the one hand, we proudly profess certain sublime and noble principles, but on the other hand, we sadly practice the very antithesis of these principles.”
Our faith in the faith, in the promises of God, should move us to action. But Peter was right, we must “prepare your minds for action.” Be teachable. Study. Learn. Grow. Be alert. And then spring into action as time and opportunity come together.
Acting upon our opportunities is just as much of a command as “repent and be baptized.” The Bible issues this exhortation, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Gal. 6:10).
Preparing our minds prompts us to seek opportunity. See opportunity. And then seize opportunity. “What you do is what matters,” wrote entrepreneur and author Jason Fried, “not what you think or say or plan.”
So, what positive action can you take today?
Is there a note you need to write?
A call you ought to make?
A project you must begin?
A job you need to finish?
A person you should visit?
A task you’ve been neglecting?
A charity you can support?
An obligation that demands your attention?
A challenge calling you to accept?
A habit you need to break?
A young person you can mentor?
A friend who requires your help?
A sin you should confess?
A wrong you need to right?
A cause you can champion?
A family member you ought to forgive?
A brother or sister you can encourage?
Finally, realize as Dale Carnegie advised, “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman