Walking Before Talking
I had a friend the other day tell me I should read a book he was reading about the Bible, but his recommendation was encapsulated by a warning:
“You’ll probably hate it. It will make you mad,” he said. “But you should still read it.”
He went on to explain that the author’s views on the Bible were pretty progressive, maybe even considered constructionist by critics. Apparently the writer likes to embellish Bible stories by taking some creative license in filling in the gaps, providing a different perspective that may challenge a traditional read of the given account.
I appreciated the recommendation. This friend’s point of view in welcoming the interesting and peripheral perspective as a means to strengthen his own faith has always struck me as admirable, and yet, my initial reaction was less than embracing.
“Why would I want to read something that I will hate? Why would I want to make myself mad?” I laughed it off with him and others at our lunch table.
But ultimately as I processed out loud what was within me, my aversion became less about reading something that could potentially make me want to throw a book across the room and more about my own worry that I would think the author had gotten something right that I had believed incorrectly for forever.
You see I spend quite a bit of my life in pursuant of Truth (with a capital T). I study my Bible to know God, I write Bible studies for crying out loud, and here you are reading a blog I am writing that is ultimately about Truth I have grasped.
And yet, there is always that seed of doubt - what if I’m wrong? What if my own humanness - my proclivity to self and sin, my culture and upbringing - has clouded my ability to see Truth correctly? I mean, these people who have book deals, who are published, surely they are farther along and more knowledgeable than me.
For me speaking the Truth feels like a weight of responsibility. Just like the first day on a new job, I want to exceed expectations. It’s a weight I take very seriously. I want to do it well, and I want to be right.
Mine is in an interesting perspective in the culture of contradictions we all seem to be wading through currently. Is it just me or does everyone want to be able to speak their own personal truth and at the same time want to force others to an outside standard of truth? It’s no wonder that I doubt.
I think that’s something we all share. We want to know the Truth. We want to be able to speak the Truth. But then the there is the hesitation - do we have it right? Is what we believe worth adding to all the talk? These questions and that lunch conversation reminded me of what I had already studied in 1 John that speaks to this very idea.
John the Apostle writes a series of letters helping the new followers of Jesus in their pursuit of the Savior. Here are a few verses from the beginning of his first letter:
“This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the Truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John 1:5-7
What I immediately notice about John’s advice to the believers, is that his focus is not so much in speaking the Truth as practicing the Truth. He calls it “walking in the light” as Christ Himself “is in the light”.
It is an important enough concept that John repeats in both 2 and 3 John:
“I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the Truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. 2 John 1:4
“For I rejoiced greatly when the brothers came and testified to your Truth, as indeed you are walking in the Truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the Truth.” 3 John 1:3-4
The walk of the believer then, from John’s perspective, is what is most important. That ability to live out what is said in God’s Word - things like loving others well, worshiping our Father in heaven, practicing righteousness instead of sin - become the pursuit of our moments exceptionally more than saying what we think is right.
The walk is vastly more precious to our Savior than all that talk.
I love when the Word of God is so straightforward. However what on earth does it mean for this world, where by and large the cacophony of personal truths seems to drown out the actions of the believer? Walking in Truth seems so quiet, and all the talk is so very loud.
I think for me, it is a reminder to place the walk above the talk. That as I pursue Christ and learn more about Him, I translate that into a changed life. I turn more away from my own selfish leanings and turn towards Jesus, walking in the light as He is in the light.
Then, I speak Truth out of the Light. I speak from an experienced faith that has chosen to do, to act. And I acknowledge that whatever I say is just noise if it first hasn’t been walked out in Truth. It has then been seasoned with wisdom, not unlike the wise advice from John in his letters.
It’s that seasoned wisdom that helps to shore up my faith when I doubt that someone else has figured out the Truth while I’ve been living a lie, like fearing that book recommendation from my friend. Truth that hasn’t been lived out is quite easily cast aside for some other idea of truth from someone outside of ourselves.
However, a life that is walking in the Truth banks on its depth of experienced faith and can easily discern lies from knowing God and His character. That life uses the Gospel as a plumbline, a standard to hold any of the talk of the world against to show what is truly real. For me it is this that casts away the doubt and unbelief I experience when my faith is challenged, in fact it frees me up to be challenged at all.
My hope and trust do not lie in my ability to speak Truth but in The Truth Himself. And what I have found is that the more I walk with Jesus, the more His Truth comes out of my lips anyway.
I walk, and then I am better able to talk.
“We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.” 1 John 1:1-4 (NLT)
Amy Bufkin has loved Jesus for as long as she can remember. Even though she basically lived at her local church growing up, her faith and relationship with The Lord was incredibly shallow until her early twenties. It was then Amy learned how to study her Bible, began to truly commune with God, and her shallow faith began to deepen as she got to know her Lord and Savior. Now her passion is to communicate the same truths that changed her life to young women in as many ways as possible. You can find her on Instagram | Facebook