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Practice these things

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By Greg Dumas

New Delhi, India, a sprawling city of millions; six to eight lanes of traffic with every kind of vehicle imaginable clogging its traffic-jammed streets.  Linda and I encountered cars, trucks, bicycles, motorcycles, camels, dogs, and even elephants, all contributing to the ever present congestion that strangled the main thoroughfares of that bustling city.  And everywhere the ubiquitous cow, right in the middle of the highway, joining the mass of humanity and creatures attempting to make their way from point A to point B.             
We never would have made it to our first destination had it not been for the skills of our native bus driver whom we nicknamed “Chicken Charlie.”  That guy was incredible!  The most important item on his vehicle was, undoubtedly, his horn.  Down the highway he charged our bus with all passengers hanging on for dear life; past cows and camels, overturned trucks and three wheelers, through puddles of water large enough to float a boat, Charlie ramped that bus through the narrowest of niches, laying on that horn, and hurtling down the highway, something akin to a screaming banshee.  The man was fearless; when obstructed by a traffic jam that stretched for miles, without hesitation, he pulled into the opposite lane of traffic, blasted that insufferable horn, and headed straight into an oncoming column of cars that, inevitably, forced its way into the left hand lane, their only alternative being to join us as we drastically rushed on into the next life.  Those drivers, however, inevitably found their way into the outer lane of traffic, and “Chicken Charlie” gunned the bus, down the road, toward the next oncoming vehicle, without missing a lick.  When we inquired of our guide as to, what seemed to us to be a dangerous driver who sped down the highway with reckless abandon, Lalit calmly reassured us that our driver had more than fifteen years of experience driving through this city and that we were in the most capable and trustworthy of hands.  Practice makes perfect, and in his case, there seemed to be a kernel of truth in that ancient proverb!            
And thus it is with the Christian life; God knows the value of practicing a certain behavior and He has instructed us, through His word, to engage in certain things.  As Christians, we are taught to practice those things and if we will do that, then we will only be the stronger for it.              
In Psalms 141:4, we read, “Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.”  Yes, we can choose to practice evil things. Isaiah addressed that situation in chapter 32, verse 6, when he wrote, “For the vile person will speak villainy, and his heart will work iniquity, to practice hypocrisy, and to utter error against the Lord, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail.”             
In Micah, likewise, that prophet uttered a strict warning in chapter 2, verse 1, where we read, “Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds!  When the morning is light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand.”  The power is also in our hand, as Christians, and we choose to “practice” either good or evil.  The apostle Paul wrote to the Roman church in Romans 12:13, “Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”  I am reminded of a christian, whom Paul referred to in Rom. 6:23 when he wrote regarding Gaius, “whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings.”   Gaius practiced hospitality; he worked at being a christian and he seems to have been good at it.   Just as “Chicken Charlie” became adept at driving through the overcrowded city of New Delhi, so too, with practice, we can become adept at living the Christian life.  But we’ve got to be willing to expend some effort in doing just that.  Only then can we be assured that we are, indeed, living the life that our God has destined for us.     
Gene Dumas is the preacher at Matee Springs Church of Christ.