Do What You Know by Pastor Carl W. Mann, II
James 4:17 (KJV) “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”
I wish I had $1.00 for every time someone said to me, “Hello! What do you know?” I used to say, “Not much,” but the Holy Spirit convicted me of making such a frivolous statement. He reminded me that He has taught me much, life experiences of taught me much, and my formal education taught me much. Therefore, to answer with, “Not much,” is a damaging reflection of the Holy Spirit, a devaluation of those who poured themselves into me through the years, and a demeaning of the teachers who diligently instructed me in school.
The Lord has been working on me in another area of “integrity.” As many of you may recall, I shared a few years ago that the Lord prompted me in the Fall of the previous year that He wanted to work with me in the New Year on maintaining and modeling the characteristics of being a “Man of Integrity.” Well, He has reinforced His desire within me as I enter this New Year.
I have changed my response from that of “Not much,” to “I know that the Lord is Good, and He is coming soon!” I’m chuckling as I write this because this new response most often provokes a quick termination to the present conversation!! I suppose I could respond with, “About what?” But, I’m concerned that would only provide an opportunity for topics of conversation with which I would not desire to participate.
In today’s Scripture, James is admonishing each of us to do what we know to do and to recognize the importance of such, since we should know that we have very little time in which to “Do what you know!”
In 44 years of pastoral and teaching ministry, I’ve never known any believer who was an effective leader who served the Lord “tomorrow.” I wonder how many wonderful, healing plans went undone and are buried with those whose bodies occupy graves in cemeteries around the world? No amount of “Tomorrows” will make up for the obedience to God we knew we must perform to accomplish “Today!”
James is telling us that it is a sin to doubt whether something is right, and then do it. It is also a sin to know that something is right, and not do it! The “time” ingredient makes the sin more egregious because we can neither reclaim the time that was spent on doing what is sin, nor can we reclaim the time that was spent waiting until another time to obey.
J. D. Jones, a preacher, said, “We are morally responsible for every wrong we have the power to prevent.” James is saying the same thing. You see, God did not create us to work our own plans. He created us to “Know, Love, and Serve” Him. We were created for His pleasure and purpose; therefore, we must endeavor to work “with” God, not “for” God!
1 Corinthians 3:9 (KJV) “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”
How can I truly “Know” what God’s Will is for my life, and how can I truly “Know” what He wants me to do, or be? The answer is simple – Ask Him! To “ask” Him, one must “know” Him. To “know” Him, He must reveal Himself.
1 Corinthians 2:11-12 (KJV) “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God” (Emphasis Mine).
Many “believers” relish the reality of being “saved,” but do not evidence a desire to be actively engaged in their fellowship with God. We hear many say, “I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; therefore, I am saved and on my way to heaven. It is only through His Grace that I am saved – nothing more is required.” I agree that it is impossible to “work” my way into a “saved” relationship with God, our Father!
BUT, look very closely to the entirety of what Paul said concerning being “Saved by Grace…”
Ephesians 2:8-10 (KJV) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Emphasis Mine).
Did you notice that Paul was teaching us that we are NOT saved by works, BUT “works” will present the evidence that we are “saved?” James taught the same principle…
James 2:14-20 (KJV) “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” (Emphasis Mine).
“Believing” in God is once thing, “Be-Living” a godly life is quite another! Devils “believe” in God, BUT, because they are eternally “fallen,” they cannot “Be-Live” a godly life, thus “evidencing” that they “belong” to Him!
There is a form of “Liberal Grace,” rather than “Liberating Grace,” being taught today in many pulpits. The emphasis is more on having a relationship with God rather than being in full-fellowship with God. James was confronting “Liberal Grace” when he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write his Epistle. In essence, he was saying, how we spend our time will present the degree of “fellowship” we enjoy with God. Therefore, he emphasized that everyone who claims to be “Born-again,” should “Do What You Know – NOW!”
I came across a writing by Richard Baxter that is a good guide on how spend our time…
Spend your time…
- in nothing which you know must be repented of;
- in nothing on which you might not pray for the blessing of God;
- in nothing which you could not review with a quiet conscience on your dying bed;
- in nothing which you might not safely and properly be found doing if death should surprise you in the act. –Richard Baxter (1615-1691)
Jesus taught us that total commitment was necessary to please God and walk in full fellowship with Him.
Matthew 6:33 (KJV) “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Luke 9:62 (KJV) “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
“Remember the three whales trapped under the ice in Alaska? All kinds of money was raised. The media covered the story in minute detail. Implements and equipment were flown in from around the world. People volunteered to help rescue the three whales. I’ve nothing against whales, but what bothered me was this: at the very same time the whales were demanding so much attention and so much help, there were tens of thousands of people starving to death in the Horn of Africa, and no one could get anybody interested. You can be sentimental about whales, but being sentimental about starving Africans doesn’t help. It’s conviction that’s needed.” — Stuart Briscoe, “The Love That Compels”