Have you ever thought about the number of things you practice? Most people probably think more in terms of habits or routines but it takes practice to get into either of those. So think about all the things practiced in life; sports, hobbies, instruments, singing, religion, occupations, cooking, cleaning, driving a car, riding a bike, using a computer, and reading to name a few. It even takes practice to be in relationships with friends, spouses, parents, siblings, children, employees, and the like. And the great news is the more we practice anything in life the better we get!
Understanding nearly everything we do in life involves “practice” makes us more passionate and disciplined. This truth was magnified in my life while teaching about friendship with God in Bible study and came upon this Scripture, “If we say we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” Holy Spirit spoke three of those words, “practice the truth”, over and over in the days following. It didn’t matter what I was doing or who I was talking with I would hear “Practice the truth” in my mind so decided to learn something more about truth and practice.
Over the years my husband and I have encouraged each other with a saying “Facts are facts but Truth is truth”! When circumstances seem dire we are reminded Jesus is Truth no matter what facts may tell us. This is easily understood by Christians who base truth on Jesus, the living Word, and through understanding truth by His written Word, not by facts we can see, hear, and experience.
The dictionary defines truth as something that corresponds to fact or reality. It is no wonder facts can totally paralyze or disable us in this lifetime if we believe facts are reality. But as followers of Jesus we understand that having faith in Him and His greatness overrides fact and reality because when we know Jesus, we know Truth, and He is definitely our reality! When we see, hear, and experience Jesus, earthly facts are no less real, but we experience true life in Truth. This releases hope and compels us to walk by faith and not by sight.
Walking by faith doesn’t just happen -we have to practice the truth! Truth is Jesus! He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life! (John 14:6) Truth is Holy Spirit! He is the Spirit of Truth! (John 15:26) The Word is Truth even as it became flesh and dwelt with us in Jesus! (John 1:14) The Father is to be worshipped in spirit and in truth. (John 4:23) So basically when we say we need to practice the truth we are saying we need to practice Jesus, being in Him, and worshipping in Spirit and in truth.
Practice is easily understood in the English language. It means to repeat something to get better. Very simple! But understanding practice in God terms came with a surprise! The word “practice” does not exist in the original language of the Bible. However, don’t think for one second this makes the Word of God unreliable or unclear. Instead, “practice” was simply not a word they used because in the Greek language “practice” and “doing” were synonymous. Instead of using the word “practice” they just said “to work”, “to do”, “to commit”, “to exercise”, “to be busy with”, or “to carry on” but they meant to do something repeatedly over time to get better. In other words, when early Christians said they were going to “do” something it was much like we say we are going to “practice” something. It meant they were committed to doing it as a lifestyle.
We are not near as committed to doing (practicing) things today. We often “do” with no intention of “practice” whereas in God’s economy if we are going to do anything, we should commit to practicing it because it is one in the same with Him. Colossians 3:17,23 “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men…” We are to do (practice) life willingly, with our whole heart, and continuously, not because we “have” to or feel obligated to do but because we love the Lord Jesus and love to practice the truth!
We “get” to practice (do) what God tells us to do. This is how we raised our children – under the premise we “get” to live, breathe, worship God, participate in athletics, have jobs, go to school and church, and the like. We don’t “have” to, we “get” to. That simple word change from “have” to “get” gives and keeps us soundly in Christ with an attitude of joy and commitment to practice the truth!
The funny thing about practice is no matter how much we do it and no matter how skilled we become, we can still get out of practice quite easily. For example, we can be in the practice of eating healthy but when life gets busy we get out of the practice by settling for fast food. Or we can be in the practice of exercising daily but when it gets “old”, we get tired, lazy, or bored with our work outs, we get out of practice real quick. Or we can be in the practice of reading the Bible every day but then other activities start interfering and we get out of practice. Basically getting in and out of practice happens as naturally and quickly as getting in and out of bed every night and morning. It is simply that easy!
Sometimes our biggest problems in life boil down to one thing; not practicing the truth – getting out of practice! This happens because very often we do something until we feel successful and then stop practicing. For example maybe our marriage is going well but then we stop loving unconditionally, stop complimenting and encouraging our spouse, stop “working at” the relationship, and then wonder why our marriage is dull and lifeless. Or perhaps we practice godly parenting skills but get tired of the constant grind, get lax, then are shocked when our children get completely out of control. Or we practice living an active lifestyle, gaining confidence as we lose weight and get stronger but then stop practicing our healthy routines and before long we are out of shape and overweight again. Or maybe we have created a lifestyle of devotion, prayer and worship time with God but get distracted and miss a few days here and there and pretty soon we feel empty, depressed, and frustrated with life. These are huge problems plaguing many American Christians but trailing back to the root will likely uncover the reality people stop “doing” what they did in the beginning. They stop practicing the truth! Once we develop a practice of doing something we must continue doing it to maintain and improve.
Practicing the truth is never-ending. There are no breaks! It applies to all things in life including the spiritual qualities of love, integrity, honesty, generosity, faithfulness, prayer, patience, persistence, endurance, grace, mercy, and the like. 1 John 1:5-8 “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and 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 Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
Knowing we “possess” all things related to Truth and have all the rights and privileges of fellowship with Him enlightens and emboldens us to practice the Truth. Possession without usage equates to lies and darkness. Possession with practice equates to light, fellowship, cleansing, and revealed truth released.
Practicing the truth enables us to mature and deepens our walk with Jesus because it means we are committed to doing all things in Him. When we live with this constant awareness of Jesus being Truth we will choose wisely what we practice. Practicing truth is life! Doing truth is life giving! God has made it easy to practice the truth. He gave His Son Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and Jesus has given us Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Truth who leads us into all truth. Let’s practice the truth! Let’s practice Jesus!