Excerpts from Francis and Lisa Chan’s book “You and Me Forever: Marriage In The Light Of Eternity
Christians in America have become experts at conviction—and failures at action. But the first Christians were quick to act. If you remember the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), the people heard Peter’s sermon and immediately asked: “What shall we do?” To which Peter answered, “Repent and be baptized.” How did they respond? Three thousand of them went straight to the water to be baptized. That’s the way it’s supposed to happen. As we get convicted by a message, we should be asking, “What should I do in response to this truth?”
We have come up with action points as suggestions, but we don’t pretend to know exactly how God is calling you to respond. If you want to know exactly what you should do, the best answer we can give is: something! While we cannot possibly know the next step for you, we can guarantee there is one. The worst thing you can do is nothing.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1: 22)
I recently read an article about the fattest people on earth, people weighing well over a thousand pounds, people who are eating themselves to death. At a certain point, they lost the ability to walk. Eventually, they were bedridden and depended on others feeding them because they could no longer even feed themselves.
It reminded me of a lot of people I find in the church. They are fed more and more knowledge every week. They attend church services, join small group Bible studies, read Christian books, listen to podcasts—and are convinced they still need more knowledge. Truth is, their biggest need is to do something. They don’t need another feast on doctrine. They need to exercise. They need to work off what they’ve already consumed. Some have become so used to consuming the Word without applying it that you wonder if they even can. These are the spiritually bedridden, resigned to spending the rest of their lives studying the Word without ever making disciples or tangibly caring for others. These are the ones about whom James asks:
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? (James 2: 14)
Sometimes people are paralyzed by fear of failure. They are so afraid that they might do the wrong thing that they do nothing. We need to learn to err on the side of action, because we tend to default to negligence. So many won’t do anything unless they hear a voice from heaven telling them precisely what to do. Why not default to action until you hear a voice from heaven telling you to wait? For example: Why not assume you should adopt kids unless you hear a voice telling you not to? Wouldn’t that seem more biblical since God has told us that true religion is to care for the widows and orphans (James 1: 27)?
One reason we don’t err on the side of action is the harsh criticism we receive when we fail. People are quick to point out action that ends badly. But we rarely recognize the sin of omission. We criticize the guy who fed too much sugar to starving children rather than criticizing the thousands who fed them nothing.
The servant who buried his master’s money rather than investing it like the other servants spared himself the embarrassment of a failed business venture. But his cowardice earned him the strongest rebuke: his master called him wicked, lazy, and worthless (Matt. 25: 24–30). You don’t want to be the servant who does nothing out of fear of messing up. You may well make a mistake through misguided action, but you’re guaranteed to make a mistake by doing nothing.
Lisa and I have made mistakes by acting too quickly. Like the time we met a homeless woman with three kids and pregnant with her fourth. We quickly invited them to live with us. Her kids were out of control, bringing our own kids to tears. They wreaked havoc in our home and didn’t seem to learn anything from their time with us. Then we discovered she was homeless only because she refused to follow her husband who loved her and wanted to be with her.
It might have been a mistake, but we don’t regret trying. Our lives are full of successes and failures. To us, that’s better than “playing it safe” by doing nothing. I’m sure we have made ten times as many mistakes by failing to act when we should have. So today, do something. We will all make mistakes. Err on the side of action.
Someone is watching you right now as you read this. Think about that. The God who loans you life sees your every move, hears each word you speak, and knows your every thought. And this is a good thing. You are seen by God. Noticed. Known.
God spoke, and the world came into existence. God spoke, and the world was demolished by a flood. One day, God will speak the only verdict that matters as He judges every person. This is the God who knows you, even now. This is the God who is watching you as you read.