John 13:17 “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
I have lost track of how many passages talk about both faith and works, knowledge and action. Lots of passages focus on one or the other, and it can be easy to get off balance. Jesus famously said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) That would seem to focus on the faith side of things, but that has to be paired with this verse to maintain balance. Judas, after all, had the same input as the other 11 disciples, but in doing other than what he knew, he became the most infamous person in history. This verse agrees completely with James 1:22. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” The blessing comes not in memorizing, or even intellectual agreement, but in obedient follow-through. Since none of us are totally obedient as long as we are on this earth, we can look forward to increasing blessing as our level of obedience rises! Yes, it is all grace, and we receive much better than we deserve, but actions have consequences, and obedience brings blessing.
I have received grace and blessing beyond measure, but I still have to keep this reality in sharp focus. I know more of the Bible than many people, but just knowing it in my mind doesn’t bring the blessings; putting it into practice does. As a pastor, I’ve got to teach that we are saved by grace through faith, (Ephesians 2:8-9) but also that it still makes a big difference how we live. Paul argued both parts of that extensively in Romans, countering the idea that if it is all grace, then it doesn’t matter how we live. (Romans 6:1-2) As has come out in the readings over the past few days, our obedience is a measure of our love for Jesus. The more we love Him, the more we appreciate and appropriate His love for us. That doesn’t make Him love us any more, it just increases our capacity to receive and enjoy His love. As both a pastor and a secular teacher I know the frustration, even the heartache, of pouring truth into people and seeing them put it on the shelf, so to speak, and not follow through and do it. I must not be that way toward God, but rather live out all that He has poured into me.
Father, thank You for this reminder. I have been aware of this issue for many years, and I still don’t get it right all the time! Help me indeed walk out Your truth so that I may lead others into it, for the blessing of everyone involved and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!