The gap at times seems as wide as the Grand Canyon.
It’s the gap between knowing and doing.
We know we ought to forgive those who offend us, but often don’t. We know we ought to love people more, things less, but our checkbooks suggest a struggle to do so.
We know we ought to share our faith, but very seldom do.
For many Christians, this gap between knowing and doing really can be a wide one. Wide enough to be an inward source of guilt, depression and spiritual malaise. Wide enough to be an outwardly poor example of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
Do you want to narrow the gap? Me, too.
A starting point might be to see this gap between knowing and doing as God sees it. Whatever we might call the gap, God simply calls it sin.
We tend to think of sin as “bad things” to avoid. But God also describes sin this way: “… to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17 – NKJV).
An unforgiving heart is not merely stubbornness, it’s sin. An uncharitable attitude is not merely stinginess, it’s sin. Neglecting to share our faith is not merely laziness, it’s sin.
How sobering it is to look at ourselves through God’s eyes!
And yet it’s comforting to know we’re in good company. Even the Apostle Paul saw this gap in his life: “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate” (Romans 7:15 – NLT).
I’m amazed at how many times the Bible reminds us that our lives are ultimately not about us, but about God. We exist not for our own comfort or well-being, but that others might see – through us – how great God is.
Can you imagine how the gap between knowing and doing might shrink if we embraced that truth more fully?
To live for God and not ourselves is no small commitment. In fact, the Bible uses the image of an altar in which you and I are the sacrifice: “Therefore, I urge you … in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1 – NIV).
It’s as if God is telling us to live our lives with an ongoing attitude of humility. We chafe at this call to humility because we fear it requires that we become less valuable, or important. In truth, humility is simply the freedom to stop thinking of ourselves at all.
Narrowing the gap between knowing and doing is critical if we’re to experience true joy – that inner well-being that is there no matter what our circumstances.
Jesus encouraged his disciples to stay faithful to him, and obey his commands, with this promise: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11 – NKJV).
If we want our Christian life to be joyful, rather than ho-hum; purposeful, rather than tedious and ritualistic, then let’s narrow the gap between knowing and doing.
There’s a larger benefit to this effort as well: an improved witness to the rest of the world. The wide gap between knowing and doing is the primary reason some Christians’ faith just doesn’t seem credible.
The problem isn’t with Christianity. The problem is this gap between the character of Christ and so many who are his followers.
Let’s narrow the gap.