Why would someone buy a pet parrot? Is it the beautiful colors? Is it an inner desire to live the life of a pirate with Polly perched on a shoulder? My guess is that the draw for most people is this bird’s uncanny ability to mimic words. A parrot can listen to what is said, memorize, and repeat it. This fascinating trick draws lots of attention and accolades for the bird’s apparent intelligence. I wonder though, do parrots ever think deeply on what is being said? Do they take the words of their owner’s and meditate deeply on their meaning? Do parrots put the words that they hear into practice? Now I am not demeaning parrots or their owners – I just see a connection here in how we respond sometimes to the spoken word of God. From Sunday school as kids through Awana, Teens, adult Sunday school, and Sunday morning worship we hear a lot of verses, stories, and lessons. We are taught at a young age to memorize and repeat what we hear. There is no doubt that it is important to memorize and retain the information that we are given but we are missing the point if it only goes as far as simply being able to repeat it. We can repeat verses we’ve memorized, share stories we’ve heard, and even pass on lessons that we’ve received but is this as far as we go? Do we ever think deeply over words? Do we put truths into practice or do we go the way of the parrot, simply receiving information and storing it only to repeat it?
The Lord gives us ways to process the words we consume on a churchly basis. One of those ways is to meditate over what we hear. Take the time to think and ask questions about the lessons you receive. It can be easy to move on to the next thing or get distracted but there is great value in coming together with others to discuss what is being taught. Lindsey and I love asking Jude questions about Sunday School, Awana, or our night time Bible reading. It is fascinating to hear his response and thoughts on what he is hearing. This provides another opportunity for him to think about what he’s taking in. Lindsey and I also see the importance of having these conversations with one another as well. Our conversations are not perfect by any means. There are days that it is like pulling teeth to get answers. I also know that there are many of us who struggle with one word answers from loved ones. Conversing is not an easy skill. It takes much time, patience and great effort but if you are able to practice discussion with your spouse, children, church family and friends then the reward will be tremendous. Paul encourages Timothy in 2 Tim. 2:7 to take the time to consider what he says. The word “consider” here means to reflect on or to think over. Paul instructs Timothy that when he does this, the Lord will give him understanding in everything. Talking things out is a great way to consider, reflect, and think over God’s Word.
Practicing and teaching are two other ways of processing what is found in Scripture. These are seen in the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). Jesus commands us here to teach others to “observe all that I commanded you” or in other words to practice His commands. We are called to obey Christ. Following Jesus is not merely repeating His words but it is obeying them; it is putting them into practice. Practicing is processing. To practice we must take the information, think on it, pray for God to lead us in how to carry it out, and then actually take the steps in living it. Jesus says in John 14:23 that if we love Him then we will keep His word. There is transforming power in knowing God’s Word and putting it into practice. David tells us that treasuring God’s Word can keep us from sin (Ps. 119:11)! When we go beyond merely storing what we hear to exercising it we will see God do great things in and through our lives. Obeying God’s Word will lead us to teach others to do the same. Part of the Great Commission for each of us is to teach in some capacity. The best teachers don’t just repeat lessons but they’ve lived their lessons. They know what they are instructing not only because they’ve thought deeply over their words but have practiced them as well. God is able to use you to lead someone in His truth. Will you follow Him in that way?
God is calling us to be more than parrots. His Word has the power to transform us and our surrounding community. Let’s not settle to sit and spout off words but let’s go forth together in thinking, practicing, and teaching what we hear. Let us be defined not only by what we say but also in how we serve.
Practicing With You, Pastor Rudy