Chapter 9 “Do” the Word
Don’t’ just be hearers only, but be DOERS of the Word (James 1:22)
Everyone wants to be a millionaire, but not many will “Do” what it takes to become one. I was notorious for knowing what I was supposed to be doing, but not doing it. I would give good advice and wisdom to others, but struggle with “Hypocrisy” in my life. Even today, this is still a major challenge for me.
Wise people know what to do, but the wisest people “do” what they know. This step should be self explanatory, but because it’s relentlessly ignored, it deserves to be re-emphasized anyway. There are a few key points that we need to pay attention to and several concerns that we must closely examine if we are going to learn how to make ourselves “DO” the things that we know and believe we must “DO.”
What good is knowledge without action:
What good does it do to read, study, pass your test and get your license to become a doctor if you never practice medicine?
What good does it do to buy a car if you never drive it?
What good does it do if you get a new job but you never go to work the first day?
What good does it do to get married if there is no communication and love?
Many people go to college who never pursue a job their field. Knowledge is futile without applying it to something and our “faith without works is dead.” (James 2:14-17)
As I continue to examine myself, I have discovered that there are many things that can prevent me from being a “Doer.” So I make a diligent effort to confess and repent from every obstacle in my life. I refuse to allow them to interfere with my spiritual progress, because I want to live like a child of God.
For example, I had a bad habit of not finishing my goals. I have started many businesses, hobbies, relationships, projects and 12 step programs which I didn’t complete. I would start off with great enthusiasm, but when the emotional high wore off and things got a little challenging, I would start to procrastinate and then eventually disengage all productivity. I would allow even nominal everyday challenges to entirely impede my efforts.
If I became a little uncomfortable from any hard work, I would use that as an excuse to stop. It is normal to get a little weary and tired sometimes, but I would let these temporary conditions be a permanent excuse to give up completely.
Then there were times when I would grow bored and allow myself to become utterly lazy. It is very easy to fall into complacency, especially after making a little progress and feeling good about it. I would convince myself that I deserved a break after “all the hard work,” but what was intended to be a short break would quickly turns into perpetual laziness. I have allowed myself crawl into a sluggish hole many times.
Another serious weakness I have is to “talk” a lot, but fail to “do” anything. I would talk about all the million dollar ideas that I had, that no one else was doing, but I would never follow through with any of them myself; dreaming and fanaticize my life away while I remained broke as a joke.
All of that “talk” was a waste of time and demonstrated what kind of superficial “dead faith” that I really had. There are many of us who “Know” what to “do” in order to make progress in our lives, but we just don’t “DO” it. I can’t tell you how many people, churches, support groups, books, study materials and recovery programs that were available to me, but for years, I just didn’t care enough to “work” at it. Somehow I had to change, but I couldn’t do it on my own.
Thanks to God for correcting me and leading me down the right path. When the pain and fear in my life finally outweighed my lazy attitude I began to find the motivation I needed. Through the teachings of God, I am constantly growing and learning how to convert my faith into real concrete actions. He is showing me how to “work my faith” and become spiritually prosperous in my life. I am slowly becoming a “Doer” and not a hearer only.
The Keys to Doing the Word:
We must find a way to put into practice the actions of our faith. Let’s take a look at a few key points that will help us become a “Doer” instead of a hearer only.
Seek God for First:
Jesus said that we can do nothing without him. (John 15:5) There will be moments when we feel empty, weak, lazy, foolish and reckless, but we know where to go when this happens. We must always ask God to help us when we face a challenge. It is imperative that we rely on his Power at all times. He will supply us with motivation, desire, inner strength, persistence, initiative and passion when we humbly come to him. He knows what we need better than we do and he’s always ready to answer our request. He is merely waiting on us to use our faith and cooperate with his Spirit. (Phil. 2:13)
Co-operate with God:
Through his grace he will fill us with the spiritual nourishment that we need, but then he expects us to do the work that is in front of us. By immediately fulfilling the task at hand we are working with God and co-operating with his guidance. He will give us the power to “do” what he has placed directly in front of us.(James 1:22-23)
We should always labor and strive according to God’s work, which he works mightily inside us. When we do this we are engaging and partaking in his Spirit and performing the “works of faith” that he has given us to do. (Col. 1:9, 2 Peter 1:4)
We must be very careful not to neglect and waste the grace of the Holy Spirit. (Heb. 12:15) Let us value the resources, gifts, talents, and skills that God has freely given. If we do not co-operate with God after he supplies our needs, then he will halt his provisions and chastise us until we are profitable with what he has given to us.
We all have different abilities:
God only expects us to perform at the level of skills and talents that he has given us. We will not be required or held accountable to accomplish work that we’re not able to do. We have all been given a unique measure of talent and skills, so we should never compare ourselves to others. We don’t want to cause envy, pride, jealousy, quarrelling and strife to impede our spiritual growth. Let each one of us be accountable to God for his own work.
Again, Self Examination:
Let us remember to evaluate and judge the quality of our own skills and execute a reasonable effort accordingly. Our work and efforts should match the level of our faith, knowledge and wisdom. It doesn’t matter if we have more or less than someone else, what counts is that we are profitable with what we have been given. We should not slow down or rush forward because we see someone else performing as such.
I had a serious problem with pride and I would think more highly of myself than I should have. Pride is the main cause for destroying the productive works of the Spirit in our lives. I have learned the hard way to walk at my own pace and not worry about what everyone else is doing. I will now take small affordable steps and set reasonable daily objectives, instead of trying to outperform my neighbors.
Manage our efforts:
The only way I can manage my life is to continue to develop my personal relationship with Christ. He provides all that I need. (2 Peter 1:3-10) He is teaching me how to have balance in my life. By the grace of God I am learning how to develop personal management skills, so that I can allocate the right amount of effort with the right objectives. I don’t want to overreact to little issues and be complacent when I should be on high alert. I am learning how to slow down when I need to and press forward when I don’t feel like it.
I am becoming more profitable for God as he teaches me how to overcome my weaknesses and make fewer mistakes. Even though I am not perfect yet, I am continuing to be transformed by his power and Spirit. What matters is that I am moving forward, constantly learning and following God’s teachings. He is the one showing me how to manage my thoughts, words and actions and be a ‘Doers” of my faith.
Difference between resting and complacency:
Planned rests are important, but there is a big differences between resting and falling into deep complacency. Laziness, complacency and stagnation are subtle yet vicious enemies to those who are “Doers.” They can casually sneak up on us before we recognize it. It is essential that we take appropriate breaks to rest so that we do not burn out or quit, but if we are not careful we can easily lose focus and fall away.
Taking a break doesn’t mean that I completely stop working on my spiritual program. I can’t afford to ever do that. That’s not what taking a break is about. We NEVER take a break from the essentials of our relationship with God or walking worthy like his children. That was a big problem for me in the past. I used to think that I needed a break from God, but all I really needed to do was to shift gears and make a subtle change. I’ve learned that I must always remain active in my relationship with God, even if I need a break from my intense work load. There are seasons when I work very hard and others when I slow down, but I always stay connected to my source of life.
After being supplied with everything we need for life and godliness, through our relationship with God, we can exercise and practice all the spiritual disciplines that he is teaching us. We can overcome all our weaknesses and be profitable to God, by “Doing” the many practical steps that are available to us.
My Personal “Take Action” Program:
I am going to outline my personal “Daily Routine” for you, so you can see an example of how to implement all this. I am not perfect at keeping all these disciplines and practices, but by the grace of God, I have established a solid foundation that serves as a hedge of protection in my life. As long as I try my best and “DO” these things regularly, I am moving forward in the right direction.
This system is reliable as long as I have enough wisdom to recognize when I am slipping. If I follow this Plan of Action” even when I do not “feel“ like it I will fulfill my purpose and overcome this world. Here is a list of the activities, practices and disciplines that I rely on everyday in my life.
Outline of My program:
Daily surrender to God, humble and crucify myself
Self-examination, confession and repentance
Prayer- Constant communication with God
Read the Holy Scriptures
Meditate on God’s Word
Speak out loud the word and promises of God
Writing and studying
Group activities, support groups
Outreach ministries, giving to others
Breakdown of how my program works for me:
I constantly maintain an attitude of humility before the Lord. By surrendering my whole life to God, I am admitting that I am powerless and need him. God will only help those who are weak and desperate for him. Knowing that I can not save myself from death puts me in this category. We’re all desperate for God, but only the wise and humble will ever seek his salvation. By remaining humble, I am also crucifying the old desire that used to control me; such as pride.
To crucify myself means to cut out an old sinful habit. When I notice pride starting to develop in my heart, I am very quick to confess it and repent. I know how quickly it can poison my life. By immediately confessing and repenting from my mistakes, I am “Crucifying” my old evil ways. It takes honest self-examination and a willingness to change, without which I will never be able to stop destroying myself. It may take years before all my deeds are transformed into a godly quality, but I must force myself to crucify and eliminate all my old self-destructive habits, little by little with the power of God.
We can’t crucify our old nature without relying on God and cooperating with his spiritual strength. It takes diligent effort to abstain from the lusts of my “Flesh,” to bite my tongue when I want to slander and gossip about someone, to control my anger, my thoughts and to turn my eyes away from the sexual immorality. It is IMPOSSIBLE to do these things without the “Grace” and “Power” of God and we must learn to allow him to work in us if we are going to be successful.
Increase my efforts:
There are times when I am extra stubborn and the minimal efforts to correct myself don’t work. That is when I am forced to increase my efforts and action steps, which becomes imperative to combat these challenges. I will increase my prayer time, fasting, reading and listening to the Word of God and build up my intensity to petition God for help. Sometimes I have to meet with my support groups more often when I notice that the pressures in my life are building up. I have learned to quickly respond when I see myself beginning to slip and intensify my diligent efforts before I fall into desperation. Today, I will do whatever it takes to correct myself, so I will not fall backwards anymore.
One of my favorite methods to intensify my efforts is to “Fast.” Fasting has been a key practice in my life and I have seen many breakthroughs and victories because of it. I do my best to fast at least once a week because I feel spiritually weak if I don’t. Although it is difficult, the benefits are amazing when I actually succeed at completing a “FAST.”
Every step in my personal program is essential in assuring that I never fall back into the old patterns of my self-destructive behavior. Having a solid spiritual program to follow has be a key component in converting my “faith” into real concrete actions. However, there is one more crucial step that must be emphasized, which may be more important than all the others. We must, without a doubt, learn to be “Patient.”
I must emphasize Patience:
To have “Patience” doesn’t seem like an action step, but it may actually be the most important thing for us to “DO.” We must learn to be “Patient” and “Wait” if we are ever going to overcome our spiritual struggles. If we can master this one little thing we can master the universe.
The Bible tells us that if we have patience we will be “Perfect.” (James 1:4) We have to wait for everything in life. We have to wait on God to supply our needs. We have to wait for our anger to pass. We have to wait for other people in life. We have to wait to get paid, wait in line, in traffic, for the rain to stop, etc. We are all waiting for the completion of our salvation and the return of our Lord and Savior. Being patient is the hardest thing to “DO” because our flesh hates it. To practice “Patience” crucifies the old desire for instant gratification and helps transform us into mature children of God.
There are only so many steps, objectives, disciplines, practices, support groups, prayers and books to read, until we exhaust the limits of our programs and resources. So the last thing that we need to learn in order to be “perfect” as God commands is to “Be Patient.” The Bible tells us to let patience have her perfect work, perfecting us, so that we will be in need for nothing and that after we have done all that we can do, we must “Stand Firm.” (Eph. 6:13)
Standing firm in patience is especially critical when we are being attacked by the Devil. We are told to “submit to God, resist the Devil and he will flee from us.” (James 4:7) But, this doesn’t mean that the Devil will immediately flee. I have submitted to God, resisted the Devil and taken all of the necessary action steps possible and then I still had to “Wait” until God performed his power in my life. I hope you truly grasp this reality or you will never accomplish anything in your life.
That is why I must emphasize the importance of developing strong “Patience.” We can do everything right, but then give up too early and throw everything away that we were working towards; all because we did not wait long enough for God to work for us. I have done that numerous times and wasted many great opportunities.
In conclusion, I wish life was easy, but it’s not. Unfortunately, we all must suffer and struggle in the process of change and salvation. I have to completely surrender and trust God everyday by forcing myself to “Do” what I believe. I have learned to seek God and co-operate with his Spirit and “do” the things he has shown me in my “take action program.” As long as I follow the teachings of God and wait patiently for him to lead me I will overcome all my weaknesses. Finally, one more powerful thing we must “Do” is to get involved with a small support group. Next, we will discuss the many benefits to participating in a good support group.