From the Sidelines to the Playing Field; Living out God’s Word in the Game of Life
“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” – James 1:22
Imagine a football team gathered together on the sidelines during a timeout. They are listening to the instructions given by the coach. He has the playbook in one hand and a dry erase board in another. The board is marked up with x’s and o’s depicting the next play. As he finishes, the players in unison shout out the team cheer. But instead of running out onto the field, they turn around and sit down on the bench. They stay seated for a time and then repeat the action all over again. They gather together to listen to the instructions of the coach, and instead of executing the play out on the field, they return to the bench. Sounds a bit ridiculous does it not? But however ridiculous it might sound, it is similar to what many church congregations do on a regular basis. They gather together and listen to the pastor. He shares from the Bible, life’s playbook. He might even use power point to teach the passage of Scripture in effort to help the people apply the passage to their lives. They even sing in unison anthems of praise to the Lord. After the gathering, the congregation leaves encouraged and filled with excitement. However, they fail to live out the sermon instructions out on the playing field of life.
This illustration magnifies the following truth; responding to God’s Word is not complete until we take what we have heard and live it. This is clearly taught in our passage above. In one of the most straight-forward verses in the New Testament, James stresses the need for believers to be active doers of the Word, instead of hearers of the Word only. He also says that when someone only hears but fails to do the Word, they are only “deluding” or “deceiving” themselves. He uses the Greek word “paralogizomai” which is similar to the word cheating. So when we are only a hearer of the Word and not a doer, we are only “cheating” ourselves.
Ezra, the Old Testament scribe, understood the need to be a doer of the Word. The Bible says that Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to also practice what it instructed him to do (Ezra 7:10). Ezra understood that God’s decrees were not simply intended for a casual reading or hearing, but were intended to be lived out and etched into the foundation of his life.
The Bible is the very breath of God. It is the fully inspired and inherent words of the Almighty (2 Timothy 3:16). God in His infinite wisdom led men of God by the Spirit of God to put together the Word of God as we know it today. And, in light of His sovereignty, we can know for sure the Bible is without error. The Bible is active and living. It pierces like a two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). It fully provides the guidance needed for everyday living. Its depth encompasses a vast array of circumstances for each season of life. It is a life catalog containing the broadest spectrum of topics imaginable. It is the supreme authority in deciphering right and wrong, and serves as the believer’s moral compass while navigating through the choppy waters of this sin-sick world. Bottom line, it is God’s instruction manual intended to be obey and followed. – These are the things doers of the Word believe about the Bible.
It is not God’s will for you to simply sit on the sidelines after meeting in your weekly church huddle; for He has not called you to be a spectator on the bench. Instead, He desires for His Word to take root in your life and for you to be on the line of scrimmage as a part of His active roster. With this in mind, take what you learn this week in your church huddle and execute it out on the playing field of life. Ask God to give you the spiritual discipline to stay off the sidelines and faithfully run the plays found in God’s playbook!
– Pastor Eric