Remembering What We Need To Thrive

People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.
— Samuel Johnson

Samuel Johnson, the 18th century English author, was not anti-education. He simply knew that it is easier to gather information than remember it. It is easier to collect data than live out the implications of it. 

Search the number of times the word "remember" appears in the Bible. That alone will tell you that Johnson was on to something. I reflected on the Johnson quote after I finished my morning walk. I asked myself:

What do I need to thrive?

As I wrestled with that question, these five admonitions came fast and furious. I share them with a prayer that this "reminding" will spur you on to a closer walk with Christ; that they will help you pursue the love and good works to which God calls us (Hebrews 10:24-25).

  1. Abide in the Vine. Jesus said, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:4-5). I remember George Muller's words, "The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord." There are a million and one requests knocking on your door the minute you wake up. Ignore them until you have spent time with Him.
  2. Preach the gospel to yourself. The discouraged psalmist said, "Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,my salvation and my God" (Psalm 42:5-6). In Note To Self, Joe Thorn tells us, "To preach to yourself is to challenge yourself, push yourself, and to point yourself to the truth. It is not so much as uncovering new truth as much as it is reminding yourself of truth you tend to forget." This is what the psalmist did. It is what we must do. So tell yourself, "God loves you." "Jesus died to save you and walks with you every step of every day." "God will come through." "Jesus satisfies more than stuff." You get the picture, right?
  3. Be a Christian where you are. Writing to the Corinthian church, Paul says, "Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches" (1 Corinthians 7:17 ESV). Commenting on this verse, New Testament scholar William Barclay writes, "Paul lays down one of the first rules of Christianity in 1 Corinthians 7:17-24, "Be a Christian where you are." You don't need to work in the church to work for God. Every job is sacred. How can you use your work to honor Christ today?
  4. "Going to church" is not the same thing as being in community and you need community to thrive. The "one another" refrain is heard over and over again in the New Testament: "Pray for one another," "teach and admonish one another," "encourage one another," and "bear one another's burdens." That's just a little sampling of the "one another's" and it shows us that the New Testament emphasis is not "watch church," or even "go to church," but "be the church." We can't be the church apart from entering into one another's lives in that "one another" kind of way.
  5. Every word of God proves true. Proverbs 30:5 is one of my favorite verses in all Scripture: "Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him." I must preach that to myself on a regular basis. There are so many voices coming my way each day, I can miss the One Voice I must hear. The Word of God soothes the soul, encourages the heart, and "is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness." God's Word never fails. This is a lesson that is repeated over and over again in the Word of God. So open up the one book where the words never grow old.

It is in remembering and doing that the instructing gets woven into the fabric of our lives. May God weave this into your life and mine.

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"Be a Christian where you are ..." from William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians, p. 64