“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word” (John 17:6, ESV).
Could life really be as simple as keeping His Word?
Sometimes when our spiritual life doesn’t seem to be moving fast enough for us, when it’s not going in the direction we want it to go, we can end up trying too hard to make it work. We can start exploring other options besides the simple faith of just keeping His Word.
You’ll recognize when this is happening. Times when you’re feeling tired and spent more than peaceful and contented. Times when you’re losing joy over one thing God hasn’t done for you yet, rather than rejoicing in all the awesome things He’s already accomplished. Times when your praying is characterized more by telling God how He should fix this situation than by believing He’s fully aware of what your need is.
But when Jesus transitioned from praying for Himself in verses 1–5 of what’s commonly called His “high priestly prayer” (John 17), into praying for His disciples in verse 6, He characterized them to the Father by saying, “They have kept your word.”
What a great summary of what Christians do! We keep His Word. It’s what we as His followers are called to do.
But is it really what we do? If Jesus was giving a general accounting to the Father today of your life and mine, would His report include what He said about His first disciples? Does this same basic requirement and privilege—steadfastly keeping His Word—accurately describe how you choose to respond to your daily challenges, questions, temptations, and responsibilities?
You’ll know God’s Word is the authority in your life when it can stop you in your tracks. You’ll know you’re someone who keeps His Word when, instead of heading down whatever mindless path your emotions or traditions are taking you, the Spirit of God can suddenly remind you of Scripture. And as soon as you hear it, the truth of that Word causes you to reverse direction and do something other than what you were heading toward doing.
If God’s Word does not have this effect on you, you need to ask yourself what role it really plays in your life.
If you love studying it but don’t do what it says, the Bible is only affection for you.
If you love having it around the house and on the coffee table for all to see but you don’t do what it says, the Bible is only a decoration for you.
If you believe you’re advancing God’s purposes by hearing the Word taught and proclaimed at church but you have no real intention of getting up from your seat to go do what it says, the Bible is
actually a deception for you. “Be doers of the word,” James said, “and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22).
Hear Jesus’ prayer to the Father again: “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.”
May He always be able to say the same of us.
• Name one thing you would have done differently today or in the last couple of days if you’d been keeping God’s Word.
• In the past, how has resisting the simplicity of obeying His Word resulted in adding undue complication to your life?
Father, thank You for giving me Your Word as a guide, as a light, as a revealer of truth about Yourself and about this relationship that You’ve invited me into. By giving me Your Spirit and Your Word—even when it seems hard to do—You’ve actually made it simple for me to keep. Not easy, but simple. I repent today of those times when I still find Your Word undesirable, untrustworthy, or too much trouble to follow. I want to be a person who keeps Your Word, whatever the cost, whatever the circumstance. Thank You for bringing it down to earth where I can see it, learn it, know it, and do it. In Jesus’ name, amen.
— James MacDonald
For more from James MacDonald and the “Walk in the Word” Bible teaching ministry, visit WalkInTheWord.com.