Whenever my son Chase experiences something exciting — like a baseball game, a visit to the aquarium, or a fun birthday party — the next time he sees a friend, inevitably Chase would tell his friend all about what happened. As I watch him recount his exciting experience to his friend, I would think in my heart, “Son, you’re so predictable! I knew you were going to say that!”
But, hypothetically, what if I take Chase on a fun vacation trip, and then afterwards he wouldn’t even say a word about it to his friends? It would seem unnatural. I would question whether my child Chase actually enjoyed the trip in the first place. Because, for Chase, enjoying an event MUST lead to sharing with others about that event.
As a child of God, I can think of many other cases where one thing must lead to another.
Belief -> Action • • • If you ask most Christians, “Do you believe in the importance of prayer and studying the Bible?” You’d get a quick “Yes” response. But then why are our prayer and devotion lives usually so impoverished?
Saving faith -> Works • • • If you have saving faith, it must lead to good works, otherwise that faith is a dead faith (James 2:26) If a tree says “I am an apple tree! I am an apple tree!” But then you don’t see a single apple on the tree, you’d go, “No, you’re not an apple tree.” The right tree must bear the right fruit (Luke 6:43-45).
Worship God -> Forsake idols • • • A true worshipper will abhor the thought of idol worship. But Jesus knows our hearts and wants us to examine whether we are serving God or money, because one cannot serve both (Matt 6:24).
God loves us -> We love people • • • If you have received God’s rich love for you, you must love people as well (1 John 4:11-12).
Love God -> Obedience • • • It doesn’t make sense to love someone yet disobey that person habitually. So genuine love for God must lead to obedience toward God (John 14:15).
Touched by good news -> Share good news • • • This is similar to what Chase would do. If he has a cool experience, he’d like others to know about it too, and perhaps to come along with him. It’s natural for kids to do it, and it should be natural for us as well.
Can you think of other examples?
Reading the list above, you might feel bad for falling short. And I’d say that’s good. Why? It would be strange if anyone can read this list and think they’ve accomplished all of it. The fact that we admit that we fall short means we do not trust in self-righteousness.
I am not trying to put you through a guilt trip. Nor am I saying “Do more! Try harder!” Read the list again. Each of these can only happen in the indicated order. For example, you cannot muster enough strength and will power to love people unless you receive love from God first. So pay attention to the items on the left. All of these require resting on the basis of who God is or what Chist has done on our behalf.
And that’s just the amazing part of it. It’s never about our ability or performance. For our part, we are compelled by God’s overwhelming revelation of Himself, or his abundant outpouring of His grace, and we respond to Him according to the praise and glory He deserves.