Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
James 1:22 (NIV)
Most readers of today's post are probably familiar with the Bible to some extent. Some may have heard parts of the Bible and dismissed it as unnecessary. There are other books, there are other philosophies, there is my own common sense and life experience--why do I need the Bible? My response is this: Have you really studied it and applied what it teaches to your life? Many of us like to make excuses based on what we personally believe and not the wisdom that has already been available before we were even born. If you claim that you have heard the word but it's really not for you, then you may also be wrong in your thinking. The Bible is giving some solid advice and if you don't actually apply it to your life then you cannot say that it is wrong or it is not for you because you don't really know for sure.
"Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.' But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God's throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Matthew 5:33-37 (NIV)
Everywhere you look throughout the Bible you will find practical advice that is just as true now as it was two thousand years ago. The knowledge found in the pages of this book is sound advice. In some cases it seems like good old common sense. You might say, "I knew that". But did you really know everything and how did you know it. And if the teachings are such common sense then why do we hear people making insincere vows like Jesus talks about in the above passage? If everyone in the world took the above advice then we could always believe everything we were told. It's not like that at all and that's because a lot of people are not doing what the Bible says to do.
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:25-33 (NIV)
In 1988 Bobby McFerrin had a huge hit with the song "Don't Worry Be Happy" based on a saying by Indian mystic Meher Baba. The title was a mantra from the mystic for many truth seekers of the mid-twentieth century. But he was really saying nothing new. It was already right there in the Bible. And how beautifully Jesus put it as we see in Matthew 6:25-33. This is practical advice that might be at home between the covers of any psychology self-help book. The person who has wisely studied the Bible will realize that Jesus isn't telling us not to work for our sustenance or plan for the future. He is simply telling us not to worry.
Medical research has proven that worry, anxiety, and stress can lead to unhappiness, illness, and even death. The medical field provides us with pills to combat our worry, but it is only a stopgap measure. The psychological field wants to treat us in other therapeutic ways that can have benefit, but there is some disagreement as to what really works in the long term. The Bible gives a simple solution that is worth a try if you can muster up the faith to believe. Give up your worry about earthly things to God and see the bigger picture of what the future holds.
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Romans 12:9-13 (NIV)
Here is some straightforward advice from the book of Romans that would be difficult to dispute. And why would anyone want to dispute this advice. There is not much here that one can logically argue against. With some minor alterations this passage would fit right into any modern help book.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 3:14-15 (NIV)
With a book filled with so much advice; a thorough reading, study, meditation, and application of the contents is going to instill you with much wisdom. The knowledge you gain will change your life, improve your life, and bless your life. Most importantly you will have the knowledge of how to gain eternal life through Jesus Christ. It's up to you to receive this knowledge through hearing, learning, and accepting it as truth.
Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'
Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV)
There is something like this to be found in nearly every religion. Even most secularists would probably agree with the second part of this commandment as it makes total sense in regard to good relationships with other people. However, if one truly focuses on the logic of the first commandment it makes complete sense. People can fail us and annoy us and instill anger within us. It can be easy to feel hatred toward another person. When you are loving God with all your heart and soul and mind, then loving your neighbor becomes channeled through the Holy Spirit and a forgiving sense of love becomes easy--just remember the importance of the word all. The "all" part is the real challenge. We may never achieve it absolutely, but it is definitely a goal to which we should aspire.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)
To me this is one of the most beautiful passages in the English language. When it is translated into another language then it is one of the most beautiful passages in that language. This is poetry. It doesn't stop here either. If you are not familiar with ths passage, I would suggest that you read the entire chapter 13 in 1 Corinthians. You might even want to commit this chapter to memory. Every marriage, friendship--every human relationship should be grounded in the words expressed here.
We could go on and on citing examples of good Biblical advice that, if put into application, would make your life better. But why continue just citing the passages. Go to the book itself. There are many things that might be difficult to understand, but there is so much reward in digging deep into God's Word and finding the treasures buried in it's pages.