I've been studying different words from within The Bible in more depth lately and one of the amazing words that I have come across is the word "Shema". Some people will be familiar with the prayer known as The Shema, which is a Jewish prayer recorded in Deuteronomy 6. The word Shema itself is often translated in English to mean 'hear' but if you look back at the original Hebrew the word Shema is much more than to just hear and it actually means to listen and obey.
When we apply that knowledge to our understanding of The Bible it changes the way in which we interpret some of the scriptures. For example, the first line of The Shema:
Deuteronomy 6:4 (NIV)
"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one."
With the knowledge of the origin and meaning of the word Shema we can now see that this scripture begins with 'Listen and obey, O Israel.' This is a really key point for me in my faith as a Christian. When God speaks, we shouldn't just hear out what he has got to say but we should firstly give it the attention that it deserves and listen to what God is saying intently. Then we should turn that intent into action through obedience. When we do this we a living not only in the knowledge that God provides but we actually living out the instructions of The Lord which is a life changing and wonderful thing.
This is re-iterated to us in New Testament too:
James 2:14-26 (NIV)
Faith and Deeds
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
This piece of scripture in James is a literal unpacking of the idea of 'Listen and Obey'. We need to accompany our faith with action, although it's key that we have both of those things to operate effectively as a Christian sometimes we can forget to give one of those aspects the importance it deserves.
I am trying to remind myself on daily basis to live out my faith and to not only take the time to listen to what God tells me but to act obediently on it. We can find instructions from God in many ways but the best place to start is digging in to your Bible, if you want Gods clear instruction then get to know His character through scripture, prayer and worship and you will find that before you know it you will be having a clear picture of what He is saying.
I pray that we can all Listen & Obey!