Joyce Meyer - Be A Doer Of The Word
Thank you for joining us today on, "Enjoying Everyday Life". Today, we want to talk to you about the challenge of doing the right thing. You know, victory lies somewhere between what we know to do, and what we do. Let me say that again, victory lies somewhere between what we know to do, and what we do. And we have to be very careful that we're not just really proud of all we know, without actually looking at, am I doing what I know to do. Perhaps when you go to church, and you hear the pastor say he's gonna teach on forgiveness today, forgiving other people. You might be momentarily disappointed because you think, "Oh, I've heard that". But how many people are you mad at? Yeah, I hear those little half laughs out there.
So, we're gonna start in James chapter 1:22. It says, "But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves". Give you an example, when God tells us to do something or puts on our heart to do something that we really don't wanna do, it's amazing how many reasons we can find to not do it. One of the things that I think is a real problem is, we say, "Oh yes, God, I'll do that". But we're thinking about doing it sometime in the future. And see, thinking about doing something right, or planning to do something right, is not the same as doing something, right. The only time you should put it off until later, is if God tells you to put it off until later.
And I can think of many examples in my own life, but I'll use one, you know, I was abused growing up, sexually by my dad, my mom was afraid of him, so, she didn't do anything about it, even though she knew about it. And so, in essence, I was abused by both of them. Well, I got away from home as soon as I was 18, and really only saw them when I felt like I absolutely had to, but fast forward many years, now, they're in their mid-seventies and their health is not doing very good, I mean, when God spoke this to me, that's where they were at, they're both in heaven now.
And one morning I was praying asking God what he wanted me to do. You know, you gotta be careful when you ask God what he wants you to do. Gotta make sure you're not just trying to sound spiritual, because he may actually tell you something he wants you to do. And so, I was praying and I just felt so clearly, that it came to my heart, that I should bring my parents from where they lived in Southeast Missouri, to St. Louis, because their health was not good at that point, and they had a difficult time finding doctors that were really capable of handling their situations properly, and they just needed help, at that point in their life. And of course, that meant that we would have to buy them a house, they didn't have the money, and we didn't have a lot of money to be goin' buying somebody else houses.
And so, I immediately thought, "That's the devil". I wonder if God's ever told you to do anything and you rebuked the devil? Because here's what I thought, here's my reasoning, you see... We deceive ourselves by reasoning. And I thought, "There is no way that God would ask me to do that after the way they treated me. That just can't be God". But the Bible says that we're to bless our enemies and do good to them. So, why would God not ask me to do that?
It was actually one of the hardest things that I ever obeyed, but it brought such great blessing into my life, and ended up being the thing that caused my dad to eventually, give his heart to the Lord. So, for that reason I can stand here today and say they're both in heaven, and probably enjoying the fact that I'm here talking about them today. But it took me awhile, God had to say it to me again. And then, I thought, "Well, I'm gonna ask Dave, he's not gonna be for that". I thought surely, he'd tell me we can't take the money we have, and buy them a house. And Dave just said, "Well, you know, if it's what God said, then you better do it". And I thought, "Ugh"! That's not what I wanted to hear.
You know, there so many excuses that we can make if we don't want to do something. Do I have any agreement on that? And the thing is, is what God tells us to do doesn't always, or even usually, makes sense to our minds. That's where we need to have discernment. See, down here, I really got to the point where I knew that's what God was sayin'. But, man, up here, "Why should I do that? They never did anything for me", on, and on, and on. But the Bible says that when we do good to our enemies, that's when we show ourselves to be like our father in heaven, because he's good to his enemies.
So, being a doer of the Word and not just a hearer, is very important to God, but it's also very important to us. Here's just a quick list:
Are you quick to forgive?
Are you slow to anger?
Are you difficult to offend?
Are you generous?
Are you merciful?
Are you always ready every day to help other people in need, matter of fact, are you so radical that you look for opportunities to help people?
Are you quick to repent?
Are you a peacemaker or do you always wait for the other person to be the first one to apologize?
Are you self disciplined?
Are you patient?
Do you really love others or is it just a word that we throw around?
Are you unselfish?
And I could go on, and on, and on, and on, and on. And so, the things that the Bible teaches, God actually, really, truly does expect us to do them. They're not just there for us to underline in our Bibles, or to sit in church and say, "Amen" when the preacher preaches on it. Do you know, it's easy to read a book that somebody else spent 500 hours writing. It's easy to sit, listen to a sermon that somebody else spent maybe 20 hours preparing for you to listen to. It's easy to nod your head in agreement, but the real challenge comes when you go home, and you're faced with whether you're going to do it, or just know it.
Be careful about being too proud of what you know. Because really, the truth is, we don't know anything, if we're not doing it. James chapter 1 is filled with a lot of instructions, but the real key is: be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves by reasoning contrary to the truth. You gotta be real careful about how much time you spend in your brain. We don't even really need to think it over, when God tells us to do something, 'cause we can think ourselves right out of it.
"To know, to do good, and not do it, is sin", James 4:17 says. So, it's not just sins that we commit, that are a problem, but it's good things that we omit, that are a problem. And I think that really deserves a lot of thought, to be honest, because we stay focused on, "Well, what did I do wrong"? But, what didn't we do, that was right? Amen? Wonder how many opportunities we pass up to be a blessing to somebody else, because we just don't happen to feel like it that day?
I really believe - this is one of my pet things I love to teach on - I believe that we need to aggressively look for opportunities to be a blessing. When God shows you to bless somebody, you don't need to have three confirmations and a trumpet blast from heaven. God is not gonna get mad at ya, if ya do something good. So, even if it's not, "Really God", it's still a good thing to do. Matthew 7:21 is a little bit of a scary scripture. "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my father who is in heaven". So, it's not just those that say, "Yes", and, "Amen", not just those who think they know everything, but those who actually do what the Bible says to do.
"The size of the gap between knowledge and doing, is what determines our measure of victory". I like that statement even though I did make it up myself. I mean, isn't that the truth? Our victory lies not in knowing, but in doing. Now, Luke 6:46-49 says, "Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and don't do what I tell you to do? As for everyone who comes to me, and hears my words, and puts them into practice, I will show you now what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. And when a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built".
So, those who are doing what the word says to do, you can go through all kinds of difficult situations in life, and you won't be shaken. "But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete". You know Paul said that, "When I try to do good, evil always comes". But I believe if we're aggressive doers of the word, that Satan's attacks against us will not be successful.
One of the things that concerns me, probably more than anything, at this particular point, is the large number of Christians that are angry. I mean, I can go and teach the word just about any place, and ask how many of you need to forgive somebody, and never have less than 70 to 80% of the entire crowd raise their hand, and I'm not exaggerating. So, it's no wonder that the body of Christ is not displaying the power that is available to them through Christ.
We look back in the Book of Acts, and say, "Well, why aren't those things happening to us today, like they were then"? But in the beginning, and I'm sure it didn't take 'em too long to get off track. But in the beginning, I mean, they had it going right, I mean, they shared all things they had in common, so that if anybody lacked, they'd have their needs met. But, do we really want to live in those days? What about Ananias and Sapphira who lied to the Holy Spirit?
They didn't think they were lying to the Holy Spirit. They said that they were gonna sell this piece of property and put it all at the disciples' feet, so it could be distributed to those who had need, but they kept some back for themselves. And when they realized that Ananias and Sapphira had done this, said, "Why did you lie to the Holy Spirit"? "Was the money not yours? You could have said in the beginning, I'm gonna give you 80% of it and keep 20% for myself". That wouldn't have been a sin, it was theirs, they could have kept what they wanted. But it was the fact that they didn't tell the truth and they fell over dead.
Well, we might thin our numbers out real quick... If everybody who made a commitment and didn't keep it, fell over dead. So, if we want the kind of power they had, then we may have to have a huge upgrade in our lifestyle. Some of you are lookin' at me, like "Oh, boy". You know, things today, like not keeping your word, people don't think a thing about that. And yet, it's a huge deal, when we make a commitment, God expects us to either keep it, or for some reason you absolutely cannot keep it, to at least explain why you can't, even if it's something like, "I really felt like this is what God wanted me to do, but I found out now I missed God, and I can't follow through".
I am very particular about always turning my projects in to my publisher, my writing projects, on time. And if I can't get 'em to them when I said I would, which rarely happens, but if I can't, I would definitely communicate with them. And my publisher told me the other day, he said, "You have no idea how rare this is". Most people don't do what they say they're going to do. And this is a Christian publisher dealing with Christian authors.
We need to be able to depend on one another, our word needs to be our bond. I mean, wouldn't it be nice instead of having to have these never-ending contracts where you sign your name 20-25 places, wouldn't it be nice just to shake somebody's hand and say, "We got a deal"? And there was a time when that kind of honor was that important to people. They would give their life, rather than not keep their word. When they said, "You have my word", they meant, "You have my word, I will do it". Let me say that again, for many the only thing that stands between them and tremendous victory, is doing what they know to do.
You know, Jesus gave the disciples an example when he washed their feet, it's John chapter 13. You know, foot-washing was not a pleasant job. They wore sandals and the roads were not paved, and so, their feet were dirty. But Jesus took off his garment, wrapped a servant's towel about him. See, if you really know who you are, if you're really an anointed, godly leader, you can lay aside your important role and do something that might seem like a menial task and it doesn't make you feel belittled at all, because you know who you are in Christ. And he knelt down, imagine that. He knelt in front of the disciples and he washed their feet, and I love, Peter said, "Oh no, Lord you're not washing my feet".
And I love what Jesus said to him, "Peter. If I don't wash you, then you have no part in me". In other words, if we're not doing things for one another, then we really have no relationship. That's why even sometimes, I'll share with people watching by TV, it's easy to turn your TV on every morning and get this broadcast free, and it will always come to you that way, but if your life is being changed by this teaching, you're actually hurting yourself by not giving back in some way, because that's where you have relationship.
And you know, I got tired of having one-sided relationships, and I made a decision about 10 years ago, that I wasn't gonna have any more one-sided relationships, where I did all the giving, and somebody else did all the taking. That's not friendship, that's being taken advantage of. And God wants us to do things for people, even if we have to step out of our so-called, "Important", position in order to do that. We look at serving all wrong, we think it's lowly but God sees it as the highest. Amen? So, Jesus washed their feet, but he did it as an example. He said, "I've done this as an example to you that you should do what I have done". John 13:17 says, "If you know these things, blessed and happy and to be envied are you if you practice them if you act accordingly and really do them".
Do you know that just reading the scripture won't make you happy? Doesn't change your life, doesn't add any power to your life, but when you do them, that's when things begin to change. Sometimes knowing too much can actually be a problem, because you think you know so much. I know we all feel good, you know, now, I haven't been using this Bible but a few months, so I don't have, but see, I like it when I open that up, and... Whoo, I read that, wow. Well, you know, if you've had a Bible for a long time, I mean, you got yellow highlights and pink underlines. Oh, look at that, I was using pink that day, and even a little bit of yellow. Whoo, man! I really, look at that, I mean, I really got with it, that day. But wow, how much of this am I doing?
See, that's the question, how much of what you have underlined are you doing? Or how much of it did you just mentally agree with? Now, let me just get to the part that's the problem. Doing always brings pain before it brings pleasure. I'll say it again, doing the right thing always brings pain, before it brings pleasure. Assuming it's something you don't want to do, it's not a problem if you wanna do it. But you take the issue of washing feet, or doing some menial task, for someone. You know, if your first thought is, "Well, I'm too good for that". Whoo, you got a problem. And if you won't humble yourself, God will be more than happy to do it for you, but it's a lot less painful if you do it yourself.
1 Peter 4:1-2 in the Amplified Classic Edition is so good. Says, "So, since Christ suffered in the flesh for us, and for you, arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God". So he says, this should be our thinking, "God, I would rather suffer today, than fail to please you". Wonder how many people pray that every morning? "Whatever it costs, above all things, Lord, I wanna obey you today. I wanna do what you want me to do". "For whoever has suffered in the flesh" - how many of you know what it means to, "Suffer in the flesh"? Do you know how much your flesh kicks up a fit? I mean, let's just say that you're on a diet. And it comes dessert time, and it's your, you've gone to somebody's house and they set out your favorite dessert.
Now, I'll tell ya, you can feel the pain in your flesh, because, "I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it". But see, the only way you get victory over the pounds you wanna lose, is if you can make it through that discomfort, and then, how happy you are, and how proud you are, and how good you feel when you go to bed that night, if you say, "Ahhh". But then, how bad do we feel if we know, once again, we did the wrong thing? So, before you have victory or pleasure, you're, more than likely, gonna have to deal with some discomfort, some pain. "No discipline for the present seems joyous, nevertheless, later on", anybody care about later on? "Later on, it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it".
Doing the word stretches us, hearing it doesn't. I can relieve my pain by disobeying, but I also relieve the blessing that would have come with the doing. Amen? I want to walk in God's ways. I can sincerely want to, but the real challenge is doing it. I can want to get up every morning early and pray, but the real challenge comes in doing it. We should be doers of the word, not just hearers only. You know, James, the apostle James, in that short little book, which, I think, is only five chapters, he said so many tremendously, powerful things. And I know that you would like to have more of this teaching today, and I have the whole Book of James in a study format, where I've taken the scriptures and explain them to the best of my ability, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
And I think that we need to not just read the word, but we need to study the word. If you spent three or four months in the book of James, then you might really begin to, I think sometimes we just go from subject to subject to subject so fast that we end up thinking we know a lot, but not really getting anything. The word is so abundant today, I mean, you can hear one thing at church on Sunday, something else on a CD, something else on my TV program. Now, you've heard two things in here today. And so, we just, "Oh, we hear the word, man, we hear the word all the time". But once again, how much are you doing it?
So, today we're offering this to you for your gift to the ministry of any amount, and whatever you give today is gonna go toward one thing, and that is paying for television airtime. Believe it or not, they don't give me all this TV airtime just because I'm a nice person. They don't even give me a preacher's discount, I have to pay for it. But it's you, our partners, who help make it happen, and it's not just to keep the program that you watch coming to you, but more than anything it's to reach out to people that haven't heard these kinds of things yet, that need to, reaching out to people that need Christ in their life. So, thank you for being with us today, I hope you enjoyed this, and be a doer of the word not a hearer only. God bless you.