The Expository Files

 Absorbed in the Faith
“ that your progress will be evident to all. "

1 Timothy 4:15,16

Today there is an obvious need for much more personal involvement of parents in the lives of their children. There simply is no substitute for that. A parent simply cannot buy a child enough food, clothing, toys, and "stuff" to replace the parent's need to be involved in the daily life of the child. Personal attention takes time and effort. But great are the rewards! When parents are too busy providing things to provide opportunities to develop a good relationship with the child, bad things happen. Neglect can take many forms, and has many evil consequences.

The goal of preaching is to proclaim "Christ and Him crucified." Christianity, like parenting, must be a deeply personal matter. Just as we cannot just buy a child more gadgets to fill up his time because we're too busy to be a real part of his life and be a successful parent, neither can we find an adequate substitute to take the place of our own personal involvement in developing our faith and relationship with Jesus and be a successful disciple! Again, neglect can take many forms, and has many evil consequences.

We are not called to be spectators but rather to be participants. Christianity is not a “spectator sport”. To be adequately involved in our faith means that we must be focused on living by faith on a daily basis. Paul wrote to Timothy and said, “Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” (1 Timothy 4:15,16). There is no substitute for this absorption if we are to find ourselves successful as disciples. It is through this means that we truly "proclaim Christ and Him crucified" to others - it is not just the things we say, or claim (as in parenting) but what we actually do, and this includes in spite of present difficulties, distress and other inconveniences (Philippians 1:20,21).

Who is Like the Lord?
There are many different descriptions of the Lord given to us in the Bible. The Scriptures sometime pose the question, “Who is like the Lord?”
Of course, the answer is no one. Interestingly, we find descriptions of the Lord that are polar opposites of one another. For example, which of the following descriptions is accurate? “The Lord is high and mighty.” or “The Lord is lowly and humble.”? Neither of these descriptions best fits the Lord because they are both equally true (Psalm 113:5,6)! And perhaps we are better equipped to recognize the validity of both of these statements than even the Psalmist because we have witnessed the extent of His humility in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 20:28; Galatians 1:3-5).

"Who is like the Lord?" Certainly those who come the closest are those who realize that there simply is no substitute for rolling up one's sleeves and becoming personally and actively absorbed in matters of faith. If I humble myself, God will exalt me when He is ready (Matthew 23:11, 12; Colossians 3:2-4). Humility includes submissiveness unto God as we actively become absorbed in personally applying His will to the days of our lives (1 Peter 5:6)

Personal Involvement and its Perks
When we become personally involved with our faith, no longer content to sit on the sidelines and complain, then our focus will become clearer as we see life's purpose being fulfilled in us (Galatians 2:20). How ambitious are you about the most noble purpose in life? (2 Corinthians 5:5-10; 11)
How smart are you? Some might reply, “That depends. Are you talking about 'Book Smarts' or 'Street Smarts'?” What's the difference?
Well, to illustrate, if you want to learn a foreign language; Can it be learned well from reading a book ["Book Smarts"]? Or must you actually start speaking it? ["Street Smarts"]). Who wants a doctor or mechanic who has only read about their craft, but have never actually worked on person or car? Or, how much value would you place on a book giving parenting advice written by someone who has no experience being a parent?
To be successfully “absorbed in the faith” we will need a good dose of both Biblical knowledge as well as practical application on a daily basis.

The Point of All Divine Commandments: Personal Application!

Few parables are better known than the Parable of the Good Samaritan. Why did Jesus tell it? He told it because people familiar with the Scriptures and the commandments of God were not so familiar with applying those Scriptures in a meaningful way to their lives and attitudes. Jesus' point is that it is not enough to know the Book. The Book is meant to be done (Luke 10 :25-29).

A lawyer had put Jesus to the test, but ended up being the one who flunked. First, Jesus dealt with the lawyers "Book smarts" by asking: “How does it read to you?" The lawyer answered correctly. He knew the truth… sort of… as far as knowing what is written. He had “Book smarts”. He knew from the Book that the greatest commandments were to love our God and to love our neighbor.

But then Jesus said, "Do this!" The panicked lawyer's response: "Who is my neighbor?" Obviously he has not been obeying this commandment because he still has not figured out who his neighbor is! His problem is not that he had not known the right thing to do. It was that he had not been doing it. He lacked “Street smarts”.

Loving God and loving neighbor were not abstract theological ideas to be debated, they were commandments to be obeyed and applied. They demanded involvement. The commandments of God for us today are the same way! (James 2:14-17).

Don't follow the example of the lawyer who sought to test Jesus. It does not lead anywhere you want to go. He sought to justify himself. Any of us can do the same… neglect the doing part, be absorbed in other things but not in knowing and applying the word, and then justify our lack of involvement by employing a list of excuses conveniently supplied by Satan.

There is a much better act to follow. Who is like the Lord? Those that follow Him to the wonderful eternal victory of faith.

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 16.11; November 2009