John 13:17 “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
Every time we hit this verse in our readings I feel compelled to write on it, because it is so vitally important. This is the positive side of the same truth Jesus’ brother James wrote about in his letter: “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22) Human beings have always had the tendency to hear things and then forget them. That’s not just a physical memory issue, though that happens too, but rather a failure to value and appropriate the truth we are given. In this particular instance Jesus taught His disciples through His actions, and then explained those actions with words. That’s very effective teaching! I doubt any of those present ever forgot it, and the evidence is that all but Judas indeed carried through and put it into practice. We all have things we never forget, and sometimes they have a clear influence on our actions, either for good or for bad. On the negative side, PTSD is a form of that. It can take a lot of good experiences and joyful truth to overcome that. On the positive side, if our home environment is as God intended it to be, we learn that we are loved and cared for, whether we deserve it or not. Just yesterday I was watching a discussion of faith by Bill Whittle and Alfonzo Rachel, and Bill was saying that he didn’t have that kind of home environment, and that left him open to later addictions that took a great deal to escape, and that right now faith has to be a conscious choice for him. However, he makes that choice pretty consistently now, and his openness about his struggle is an encouragement to many. We all need to lay hold of the truths God has taught us and put them into practice, to receive the blessings God intends for us.
As I comment frequently, I feel like James 1:22 was written expressly for me. I’m very adept at deceiving myself! I have an enormous store of truth in my mind, but the question is always, how much of that am I putting into practice? The flip side of that is, as much as I would like to share God’s truth with others, am I living it out enough that my words will have traction? Just like Jesus washed His disciples’ feet before He pointed out that the Lord and Teacher was humble, acting as a servant, I need to demonstrate God’s truth before I lecture on it. Hypocrisy needs to be the furthest thing from my lifestyle. I need to be completely open so that my failures may be seen as my own, and in no way reflect negatively on the Lord I serve. I am to live out the reality of Christ in me, the hope of glory, (Colossians 1:27) so that all who see me may be drawn to Him.
Father, thank You for Your incredible grace. I couldn’t begin to calculate how many times I have failed to live out the truth I know, yet You have not abandoned me but continue to love and use me. I owe You everything for that! Thank You for Your presence in the business meeting yesterday, and for the way You are growing this church. Thank You for the suggestions that were made, and for how people really seemed to own what was going on. May we indeed absorb and apply all that You are saying to us, so that we may be and do all that You intend, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!