A is for Application

After you’ve carefully observed what the text says, take some time to write out how you plan to put into practice the lesson the Divine Mentor has just brought to your attention. How will you be different today as a result of what you’ve just read?

Application answers the question, ‘‘How does this verse or thought apply to me?’’ Application is a crucial part of this process, for without it, all you’re doing is amassing facts, trivia, and bits of knowledge.

Do you remember what the Lord Jesus thought of that kind of practice? In a classic confrontation with the Pharisees, He said: ‘‘I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you.’’

Have you ever pondered the amazing irony of the Pharisees’ relationship with Jesus? They were bona fide Jews with prodigious pedigrees. Yet they plotted how to violate the sixth commandment, and then schemed a cover-up by making sure the Romans committed the murder and took His body down from the cross before the Sabbath arrived so the Jews wouldn’t defile the day. Astonishing.

The Pharisees had extensive knowledge of and intimate familiarity with the details of God’s Word . . . while missing the whole point! Amassing biblical knowledge without a commitment to applying it to life leads only to massive miscomprehension.

Paul agrees: ‘‘We know that we all possess knowledge.
Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.’’

James created an unforgettable metaphor to say much the same thing: Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it— he will be blessed in what he does.

Application is what seals God’s Word to our hearts.

Application makes the difference between hearing His will and doing His will. Application is what sets apart a disciple from a dabbler, a follower
from a fan.

Application states how you will live differently because of what you’ve just read.

Application PinA powerful force comes into play when we bring ‘‘ what we believe’’ and ‘‘ how we live’’ closer together. One of Christendom’s greatest maladies is the phenomenon of living inconsistently with what we believe. Incongruence is one of the foremost causes of anxiety:

We espouse one thing yet live another

We know all there is to know about love, but we aren’t known for being loving.

We know all there is to know about joy, but there is no joy in our homes.

We know all there is to know about forgiveness, but we still can’t forgive.

Some years ago a pastor friend of mine was carrying on an illicit sexual affair. When it finally came to light, he was reprimanded, summarily dismissed, and put under discipline and counseling. As a friend, I called him one day and asked, ‘‘ How could you do that?’’

‘‘Wayne,’’ he replied, ‘‘ I don’t need more people to condemn me.’’ I reassured him of my friendship and my heart, but I told him I needed to know how he could tolerate the pain sustained by the massive inconsistency of his lifestyle with his message. I’ll never forget his answer.

‘‘Wayne,’’ he said, with a heavy sigh. ‘‘I wasn’t reading the Bible for life. I studied the Bible only to get sermons out of it. I would find one and immediately give it as a message on Sunday. As soon as I could extract enough lesson material to hand out, I was done for the day. It was never routed through my heart, so it left me starving even though I was overseeing an orchard.’’

Knowledge alone is no guarantee of growth. But with God’s help we can dial in the two lenses of knowledge and application. Clarity appears, and focus results. One of the greatest blessings is promised to those who consistently apply what they know: ‘‘If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.’’

Divine Mentor

 

This post is an adapted from Pastor Wayne Cordeiro’s book, The Divine Mentor. Check back here all this week for in-depth discussion of how Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer work together as we seek God in our individual quiet time.