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by Dr. Bill Denton
You are witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers; just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. (1 Thessalonians 2:10-12, NASB)Words to live by are just words, unless you live by them. You have to walk the talk. (Cited in BITS & PIECES)
What are words to live by? The simplest way to describe them is that they are words of advice and wisdom that tell us how best to conduct our lives. They cover all sorts of things, from personal relationships money, family, education, and even health. We look for people who have enough life experience and maturity to help us by providing those words by which we might gain insight to avoid problems and do things right the first time. Certain people are expected to give us these words to live by, including parents, teachers, religious leaders, politicians, philosophers, even those who provide social commentary through the news media.
The fact is, words to live by are all over the place. Were inundated with them. Both electronic and print media flood us with a cascade of words with which it is impossible to keep up. Bookstores are full of books written to help us live. Newspapers, radio and television programs, and the personal interaction we have with any number of people, all seem to focus on giving us information, advice, wisdom of the ages meant to help us live this way or that way.
The truth of the matter is that words are just words. They may be good words, or not so good, but as long as they remain just words, they are really benign little things. A word, whether spoken, recorded or written does nothing to affect life. Nothing, that is, until those words are acted upon. Then, the power of words becomes real.
This is why there is an insistent hammering throughout scripture on a rather simple, basic idea: you must do what you hear or read. This was the difference between Jesus wise man and foolish man in the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 7:21-27) One heard and did not do what he heard. That was the foolish man. The other heard and acted accordingly. That was the wise man. Truly, words to live by are just words, unless you live by them.
May I pry into your personal life for just a moment?
What is it that Jesus has taught you that needs to get off the page of your Bible and into the action of your life? Is it something as simple as following through on your belief with the obedience of baptism? Is it more complicated, such as taking his moral or ethical teachings and actually using them where you work? Is it the highest of all words to live by, taking his teaching of love and mercy and living them toward someone you know? Stop cluttering up your life with words to live by, and live by words that work.
So get rid of all the filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the message God has planted in your hearts, for it is strong enough to save your souls. And remember, it is a message to obey, not just to listen to. If you dont obey, you are only fooling yourself. For if you just listen and dont obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing to improve your appearance. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you keep looking steadily into Gods perfect law the law that sets you free and if you do what it says and dont forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it. (James 1:21-24)
Author: Bill Denton
Publication Date: May 24, 2002
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