December 13, 2021 — If “Practice Makes Perfect,” It’s important to Practice the Right Things

“Back in our old town before we moved here,” Stan commented one morning while we waited for Ricky to bring our breakfast, “I had a friend I played golf with occasionally. We had a lot of fun together, but he was almost always frustrated with how he played.”

“Any particular reason?” I asked.

“He spent a lot of time at the driving range practicing,” Stan replied, “but there never seemed to be any real improvement in the way he played on the golf course. And that frustrated him.”

“If he practiced a lot,” I said, “you have any idea why he didn’t score any better when he actually played a round of golf?”

“I do,” Stan replied. “Same reason I too often have trouble with my faith walk.”

“What’s your faith walk have to do with your friend’s golf?” I asked.

“Practicing the wrong thing,” Stan said. “With my friend’s golf, what he practiced the most was hitting long drives, and he was pretty good at that; not perfect, but good. However, he didn’t practice his short game or putting and he lost a lot of strokes there. By not practicing those things, he was perfect at being a terrible short-game player.”

“Perfect at being terrible?”

“Yeah,” Stan replied. “By not practicing the right things, he had perfected a terrible short game. The Bible talks about that.”

“The Bible talks about short-game golf practice?” I asked.

“Not so much golf practice,” Stan replied with a smile, “but practicing the wrong things and not practicing the right things.”

“How so?”

“Well,” he said, “there are a lot of examples, but just for starters, Jesus talked about practicing the truth. By implication, it seems to me, He was covering the opposite of what happens when I don’t practice the truth.”

“What opposite?”

“Rather than coming to the light of Christ and perfecting what God has for me to manifest, I go in the opposite direction of being in the dark manifesting what the world, the flesh, and the devil have for me to manifest. By being in the dark and choosing to remain there, I am perfecting what it looks like to be in the dark!”

“Didn’t the apostle John in one of his letters also have something to say about that?” I asked.

“He did,” Stan replied. “He wrote that if I say I have fellowship with God in Christ, but I walk in the darkness, I am not telling or practicing the truth. He also wrote about practicing sin.”

“Practicing sin?” I said. “That doesn’t sound like a very good thing!”

“You’re right about that, my friend,” Stan replied. “There’s a lot of good things for me to practice in my relationship with God, as well as a lot of things that aren’t so good.”

“So,” I said, “if I get better at what I practice, it might help if I practice what God has for me to practice. Is that it?”

“That’s it,” Stan replied, “except, based on a whole lot of personal experience, I would change ‘might help’ to the more positive ‘will help.’ I know for a fact that practicing the right things does help!”

____________________________________

Bible verses to consider:

But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God. John 3:21.

If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 1 John 1:6.

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me. John 14:6

Pilate said to Him (Jesus), “What is truth?” John 18:38.

Prayer:  Thank you, Father, for sending the truth into the world to show your loving provision of life eternally with you when it’s time, along with the truth of knowing you and Jesus more deeply before then. Thank you, too, for your every provision for practicing and manifesting the truth so that others will see you. I confess that too often I do not practice what you have for me to practice, but I choose to practice what I want to practice apart from you. Please forgive that foolish approach to my walk with and in you. And please help me in following every step of your lead so I practice and manifest in every area of my life only what you have for me to practice. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus, who is the Truth. Amen.

Think on this:  Have you accepted God’s free and gracious provision of Jesus as the Truth so you know you will spend eternity in God’s presence when it’s time? If no, why? If you do have the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with what you practice on this side of eternity? As well as you would like? As well as God would like? If you sense some changes are needed in what you are practicing, how are those changes going to happen? Can you do it on your own? Why or why not?

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