Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Doing Something About It by Vance Haver (Part 1)

"They hear thy words but they will not do them." — EZEKIEL 33:31.

"But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." — JAMES 1:22.

The prophet Ezekiel ministered in an evil time. It was his lot to prophesy to a generation that listened after a fashion, likened him unto one having a pleasant voice, told others about his preaching, but did nothing about his message. They heard his words but did them not.

Ezekiel was not the only man of God whose sermons fell on unresponsive ears. Earlier, God had advised Isaiah well in advance that his message would blink eyes and shut ears and harden hearts lest the hearers convert and be healed. And those words show up later in each of the four Gospels and still later in Acts and Romans to explain the poor response of Israel to the ministry of our Lord and of Paul. Israel heard but did nothing.

James warns against the same evil. Invariably we do not quote the entire verse. We say, "But be doers of the word and not hearers only," and there we stop. But there is a most solemn further word, "deceiving yourselves." That is the worst thing about it: hearing and not doing, we delude ourselves.

Our Lord constantly warned against doing nothing about it. "Everyone that hears these sayings of mine and does not do them, shall be likened to a foolish man who built his house upon the sand." "If you know these things, happy are you if you do them." "You are my friends if you do what I command you." "Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and don't do the things I say?" In the Great Commission, we are told to go "teaching them TO OBSERVE" the things commanded.

Chief among the besetting sins of the saints is hearing without doing. And it is a grievous sin, for "to him that knows the good he ought to do and fails to do it, it is sin." In Ezekiel's day they heard the preacher, complimented him, told others about him, but did nothing about the message. The centuries have passed, and today we listen to preachers, invite others to hear them, congratulate them with that very doubtful compliment, "I enjoyed your sermon." But we do nothing about it.

Let it never be forgotten that, although we may do nothing about the Word we hear, the Word will do something to us. The same sun melts ice and hardens clay, and the Word of God humbles or hardens the human heart. Truth heard and not acted upon is a dangerous thing. Spiritual impulses which are not translated into action have a disastrous reaction.

It is well known that many movie-goers who are continually being excited and stirred in the world of make-believe become emotional drunkards. But there are also religious drunkards and Bible-conference drunkards and church drunkards, who go from meeting to meeting, constantly being stirred but doing nothing about it, until their souls become fed-up, their moral muscles deteriorate and they lose their capacity for being aroused. Presently they suffer from a moral let-down, a religious hangover. They delude themselves. They have heard the best preachers, they have read the best books, they have had their ears tickled and their emotions thrilled, but as with a stimulant the doses have to be increased and after awhile there is no effect, no matter what they read or hear. An alarm clock that fairly blasts us out of bed on the first morning may eventually fail to arouse us. Something like that happens to those who hear and take no action upon it.

It is a serious thing to trifle with any emotion and not carry it through to its proper and legitimate conclusion. And it is most dangerous to play with the holy stirrings of God's Spirit through His Word. I had rather take chances with forked lightning any time. For the Word of God is dynamite, it is a hammer, a fire, a sword; messengers of the Word are a savour of life unto life and of death unto death. The man who habitually hears the Word of God and does nothing about it is the greatest of fools, for he fools himself.

Americans are a generation of spectators. They sit, thousands strong, in a football stadium and watch twenty-two men strive for the mastery down below. Then they go to the movies and thrill to the sham of Hollywood. On Sunday some of them go to church, and once again they are spectators before whom the minister is expected to perform. Many of them have no more intention of doing anything about the sermon than they intend to act out what they experienced at the movies. They are spectators, not participants.


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