Hope out of a hard question from Jesus

An open Bible being read

The other day, I read a particularly convicting question from Jesus:

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I say,” he asked (Luke 6:46). I can only imagine the thoughts that ran through the minds of his original hearers. How long was the list each was coming up with? What did they feel when they began to examine themselves?

Take a second. Sit with that question for a while. Maybe it’s just me, but this is a question that makes me really uncomfortable. I can’t help but think of the ways in which I struggle to obey Jesus (and it almost always comes back to sharing the gospel with others). I actually spent a good chunk of Saturday thinking about this question from the perspective of writing a list of failures.

There’s something helpful and necessary about examining ourselves, of course. Paul encouraged us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith (2 Cor 13:5). We should not assume we’re running the race at our best when we might be running hobbled. But sometimes when we make our lists, when we examine ourselves, we can turn what we see into a task list. We determine our next steps and set out to accomplish them.

Or not, which is more often the case.

Then despair sets in. And we give  up.

In thnking about the question further, I started to have a different response. I stopped making my list—rather, I stopped trying to turn it into tasks that I can manage. Instead, I found myself thinking about the man who cried out, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”

And this became my own prayer to God. To stop trying to create tasks for myself and first deal with my heart. My weakness in evangelism is a heart issue, as are a host of other sins and areas where I’m slow to be obedient. So I can’t just tell myself, “Evangelize harder.” I need Jesus to deal with my heart first. To help my unbelief.

And so that’s what I’ve been doing as I’ve been thinking about this question of Jesus’. And in doing so, I’m starting to feel a little more hope that things will change. I can have hope because I know the One I am asking is good. He gives all that I need (and more). He wants me to obey him in all things, and by his grace and through his Spirit, he will give me what I need to do so.

Posted by Aaron Armstrong

Aaron is the author of several books for adults and children, as well as multiple documentaries and Bible studies. His latest book, I'm a Christian—Now What?: A Guide to Your New Life with Christ is available now.