My friends in the corporate world complain about the endless, nearly pointless, meetings that eat up large chunks of the work day. I have sat through some of those myself! Don’t you just love that guy who fills the agenda with his ‘great’ ideas but who seldom follows through? In any setting, it becomes clear in a few days who works and who just talks. My admiration goes to the one who gets the job done without feeling the need to tell everybody about what he is doing, why he is doing it, and how hard he is working at it. To borrow a phrase, “Just do it!” I grew up with a phrase that described a person who was just words. My dad called that man ‘all hat, no cattle.’ Funny phrase, isn’t it? It referred to a person trying to look the part of the rancher, but who didn’t really own any stock.
In his final letter to his protégé, Paul warned Timothy that people would come into the Church who were big talkers, who liked to derail others with long arguments about words. “Remind everyone about these things, and command them in God’s presence to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them.” (2 Timothy 2:14, NLT) “Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior.” (2 Timothy 2:16, NLT) I remember the long debates in college coffeehouses about whether we should serve wine or grape juice at Communion. We debated, ad nauseam, projected timelines for the Last Days. We talked about things of which we knew next to nothing, but we sure had opinions! To turn our Christianity into mere words about trivial matters or personal preferences is not just a waste of time, it is ruinous to faith.
We are warned in the Word about those who just want to have an argument. Should we get ourselves worked up, ready to fight to the finish? No. “Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.” (2 Timothy 2:23-25, NLT)
So, the counsel of the Spirit comes to us. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15, NIV) The approval we need should come from the only One that matters. As we live this Christian life the we will not chase after making great impressions or with creating an image of success. Instead we will ask ourselves just one question – Is the God who knows it all pleased with me? We can comfort ourselves with the truth that “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.” (Hebrews 4:13, NLT) And, if we are just big talkers, the truth of God’s omniscience should put us right, closing our mouths and sending us to work.
We live in a world of words. The torrent of information that washes over us makes it more difficult than ever to sort out the truth, doesn’t it? Let’s not fall into the trap of talking a better Christianity than we actually practice. Here is the word from the Word. “For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 4:20, NLT)
Lord, call us to faithful, steady, effective service for You. Amen.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name
Christ alone cornerstone
Weak made strong in the Savior’s love
Through the storm He is Lord
Lord of all