Lip Service Versus Life Service

Steven Haguewood

Isaiah shared with us a message that from time to time needs to be reiterated (Isaiah 29:13-16). He warned of impending judgment and woe upon those who "...draw near with their words ... honor me with lip service ... but remove their hearts far from me." How easy it is for us to fall into the same situation, removed from God, though we claim that we are near Him.

Looking just before this passage, Isaiah explains just how Israel made it to such a low position as this. They refused to read the words of God as instructed. He asked the literate to read His scroll, but they refused because it was sealed. He asked the illiterate to read it, and they refused because they could not read. It is easy to find excuses for lack of service to God. God is not looking for excuses; He is looking for servants.

Matthew 7:21, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord' will enter the kingdom of heaven but he that doeth the will of my father who is in heaven." This passage refers to two things that must be explored. The first to examine is lip service. The second is life-service. God demands both, not one without the other.

Paul clearly proclaims to the Romans that confession of Christ is made with the mouth (Rom. 10:9-10). If we are unwilling to make this confession, then Christ will not confess us before the Father (Mt. 10:32-33). Christians must be willing to call forth the name of Jesus Christ and tell the world that He is the Son of God and Savior of the world. Paul calls this the "good confession" that was made by both Timothy and Jesus Christ (1 Ti. 6:12_13). Those who love Jesus Christ and long for His appearing must be about His Father's business, telling others who Jesus is and how to come to know Him.

However, simply saying that we believe is not enough. Christians must also show their belief in a life that mirrors the Bible. Peter commands, "But as He which called you is holy, so be ye holy ..." (1 Pt. 1:15). Paul tells us in Romans 12:1 that our lives should be "living and holy sacrifices," and that is the only way to be acceptable to God. In conjunction with our verbal expression of Christ, there must also be a visible display in our lives not showing the world how great we are as people, but showing the world how great He is as God. We must be the city set on the hill that will not be hidden by the darkness of the world (Mt. 5:14). The only way that we will ever please God is to give life-service to accompany our lip service.

How do we do that? Romans 12:2 continues Paul's thought and tells us to renew our minds so that we can be transformed to that which is above. Remember, Isaiah's warning was to those who found excuses not to pick up God's word and read it. In order to give the proper life-service to God, we must study His word and know what we ought to do. Then we can be "workmen who needeth not be ashamed" (2 Ti. 2:15).

Here is what it all boils down to. Christians must be the "needle in the compass" that points the way to Christ. If we say, "Go find Christ," no one will ever take our direction. If we say as Philip did when inviting Nathanael to see Jesus, "Come and see," (Jn. 1:46) then there is greater hope they will follow. If your life shows who a Christian should be, people will listen to the confession of your mouth. Then you can be one who receives the reward of heaven and the crown of righteousness that is appointed for all who love the Lord and His appearing (2 Ti. 4:8). 735 Hwy 72A, Walnut, MS 38683.

(Editor's note: Brother Steven Haguewood has accepted the invitation of the North End church of Christ, Parkersburg, WV, to work with them, and, the Lord willing, he will soon move to West Virginia.)


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