Appreciation of Truth is not Application of Truth
Think about it. Endless translations and editions of the Bible, conferences, blogs, mp3 downloads, live streams, video sermons, books, Christian music, CDs, podcasts, radio shows, social media, and the weekly classes and sermons we take in.
Never has there been a generation with more access to biblical truth.
But is the church any better for it? Are believer’s more holy, more content, more committed to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) because of this access?
Here is the challenge that my own heart faces daily. With so much truth available, it is easier to appreciate the truth than apply the truth. It’s too easy to think that if we have appreciated, or just plain liked, a quote, a book, a sermon, a blog post, etc., that we have accomplished the intended effect of that truth. Appreciation and application are two very different things.
Don’t misunderstand. We should have a deep and abiding appreciation and attraction to biblical truth. Saying something like, “I loved that book,” or “I really enjoyed that sermon,” those are good things. Would we really want to say the opposite?
However, what a difference there is in being able to point to measurable and evident changes made in our thinking or behavior because of something we have learned. Appreciation of the truth should lead to application of the truth. Otherwise it is like putting a great Christian classic on the bookshelf for eye candy rather than actually reading it. I once heard a sad anecdote that the definition of a Christian classic is a book that everyone has, but no one has read. This illustrates the point.
So what steps can we take to move from appreciators to appliers? Here are some suggestions.
- Write it down. Get a notebook or journal and put into writing your responses to the biblical truth you are accumulating. Write out prayers pleading for the Spirit to apply the truth to your life. When taking notes from a sermon, don’t just write the outline, but note the things that you discern the Holy Spirit doing in your heart in response to the sermon.
- Talk about it. This is another way of saying we need to become accountable. Foster relationships in which you can discuss not only the truth you are learning, but also the appropriate responses you should have to those truths.
- Review. Because truth is flying at us at light speed, take the time to read through that notebook or journal often to refresh your applications.
- Pray. Yeah, you knew that was coming. But I would encourage you to speak to God about the things you are learning. Go over your notes with Him in your prayer time and request specific grace for specific application of His truth.
- Slow down. I have found that I get more out of a book read slowly or a blog read repeatedly than trying to keep up with everything that comes out at an almost hourly rate.
Don’t let your mind become a museum for truth.
Rick Holland is one of our ten TES campus pastors, having served as Senior Pastor of Mission Road Bible Church in Kansas City, KS since 2011.