Authored by Steve Hearts
It’s one thing to know a lot about something, but another thing to make it an integral part of who you are. Or have something that you believe in become a part of your heart and actions.
When I was a preteen, and into my teenage years, I felt proud and conceited about my ability to quickly and easily memorize Bible passages. I regularly used that to bolster my case when debating or arguing something. I’d spout off verse after verse in an effort to prove how “spiritual” I was. While I did manage to impress some people, God truly knew my heart.
As I grew older, life’s difficulties only increased. I complained about them and buckled under their weight instead of finding strength in God’s Word. It took a considerable amount of time for the Lord to get it through my thick skull that His Word is not only meant to be studied and memorized, but also lived and applied. More than simply making its way into our ears and heads, it’s meant to penetrate the depth of our very being and become part of our hearts.
For instance, I could flawlessly quote James 1:2–3: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.”1 But instead of being thankful for troubles and difficulties, my attitude was the exact opposite. The drastic change God asked me to make was no easy pill to swallow. But with His help, I began to make the switch from a negative, grumbling attitude to one of gratitude and praise, and I can testify to how this made all the difference.
The Lord used the following illustration to drive home this point about living and applying His Word:
As a musician who plays several instruments by ear, I know nothing of written music—even in Braille. I also know very little when it comes to musical terminology. Once, when I was lamenting this to my older brother, he said, “But you also have a great advantage over those who are unable to play without reading the music. The music itself is in your head and heart, whether you can read it or not.”
What the Lord showed me was that I needed to live and apply His Word in the same practical way I live and apply my knowledge of music. It’s always possible to spend endless time reading, studying, and learning about any given theme. But if what is learned is not used, applied, and lived, then all that learning is useless.
One of the people my family and I are friends with is a psychologist. For years, she would dismiss all of our suggestions of Jesus and salvation. But when a horrible event occurred, her sister and brother-in-law tragically murdered, all the knowledge she thought would keep her strong shattered into pieces. She turned to Jesus for His help, and asked Him into her heart. One day she told us, “I studied for years to be a psychologist, and I am able to speak extensively on many subjects, but none of that knowledge is helping me in the least right now. What’s helping me is the comfort I am receiving from now coming to better understand Jesus’ great love for me and His Word!”
This reminds me of another story of a young professor of psychology who was an expert on human emotions, reactions, and was well loved by all his students.
One afternoon, he received a letter from his brother informing him that his mother, whom he hadn’t seen in five years, was ill. She wasn’t likely to last much longer and was longing to see her son. The professor decided to take a trip to see her over Mother’s Day that weekend.
A few days before his trip, the professor’s landlady asked him what he was planning to take home. The professor had no idea, so he asked his landlady to choose something for him to bring.
The next day, the mailman arrived at the door with a beautiful bouquet of roses.
He then started to make excuses: “My mother doesn’t care much for sentimentality. Besides, how am I to carry roses on the train? What will people think?” His landlady was undeterred, though, and insisted that he take the roses.
Throughout the entire train ride, the professor was paranoid that someone who knew him would see him with the roses. Whenever he saw a familiar figure heading his way, he would quickly hide them behind his newspaper.
When he presented his mother with the roses, she tried to dismiss them, telling her son he should save his money for the future instead of buying her presents. Having expected this reaction, he was satisfied.
The following day, the professor was on a walk and ran into an old friend of the family.
“I just came from your mother’s,” she said exuberantly. “All that woman talks about is the roses you brought her.”
The professor didn’t believe this until he reached home and heard his brother and sister-in-law say the same thing.
The next day (Mother’s Day), the elderly woman didn’t come downstairs for breakfast. The professor checked on her and found that his mother had peacefully passed away in her sleep, tightly clutching the roses he had brought.
It then dawned on the professor that it may have been him who didn’t care for sentimentality and that perhaps his mom was reacting that way for his sake. He’d thought he knew and understood so much of human emotion, but this bittersweet occurrence showed him that knowing and becoming a part of what you teach are two separate things.
It has recently become a habit for me to pray the following prayer before diving into God’s Word: “Lord, cause Your Word to become a part of my heart and life instead of just mere knowledge.”2
2 1 Corinthians 8:1–2
Read by Amber Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2015 by The Family International