Acts 17 we find Paul in Athens challenging his audience to make a decision. I am not a person of action I am an observer soaking in everything I see. I will sit on the outside looking in analyzing and understanding all that is happening. Then at some point I choose to participate or walk away. I do this even if the action is happening to me. I will observe and calculate. Pondering what action if any that I should take. We must make decisions when the time comes. I spent part of my life observing the claims of God, the claims he left for us in His Word the Bible and a decision had to be made.
If you are ready to be on stage then follow with me through James asking us to be a “Doer of the Word” and end with Paul speaking from Athens asking us to be a poet and performer.
Doers of the Word
Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. James 1:21-22 ESV
That decision is to give up my life and make Jesus the source, purpose, and focus. It is intimidating and overwhelming to meditate on. Repent of the filthy wicked life I am living and humbly submit to the life that God wants for me? To put into action what I find in His word is no easy task.
And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated— of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, Hebrews 11:32-39 ESV
Faith Results in Actions
The Bible is full of history of men and women who became doers of the word. The end results however are never the same. Conquered kingdoms is one outcome for a “doer” but death by the sword is the outcome for another. The author of Hebrews tells us that the world is not worthy of these men and women who all followed what God wanted for them. Life or death, worldly success or failure, these men and women of faith heard and did what God wanted. Brother and sisters read their story, draw courage from their examples.
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. James 1:23-25 ESV
Being a doer of the “perfect law, the law of liberty” no matter how hard, no matter what the cost is what God wants. People acting on God’s will are blessed according to James. Success here and now is the cost so maybe blessings are not what we think they are. The author of Hebrews answered that question in the conclusion of what we read above “though commended through their faith, did not receive what promised”. Blessing came to neither the one killed by the sword or the one who conquered kingdoms in this life. Both those that conquered kingdoms and those killed by the sword missed the promised. They took actions based on a promise in eternity. Look at the word “doer” here it is an interesting word that is only found in one other book in the Bible. Luke used it in a speech he recorded from Paul in Acts .
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Acts 17:26-28 ESV
People of Athens and the World: Be Poets
Paul in Acts 17 proclaims God to the people of Athens. He tells them that their own “poets” recognized that we are God’s children and God himself has given them a role. That word “poets” is the same word James used to say be a “doer” of the word. James wants us to be actors, performers, poets, producers, and authors that bring to life the Word of God. God has written the script.
Life, boundaries, and dwelling here and now are laid out for each of us. We are all actors on a stage would we not be more successful if we act out His script? If we adlib or refuse to participate then we will be a mess and it will be obvious. If you want to know what that script is then you need to be in the Bible reading it, and by faith listening. Then you will have a choice to make and I have found that choice to move to action is obvious and compelling.
If you enjoyed this then click the like button, leave a comment or ask a question! Also if interested in the Book of Acts (written by Luke who traveled with Peter and Paul) then start at the beginning. Check out this post Acts Chapter 1 A Heart of Stone.
Revised and edited. Originally published 2014.