Edmund Burke (1729-1797) was an Anglo-Irish statesman, politician and philosopher, born in Dublin, but lived his adult life in London. He was a Member of Parliament, and was active in politics his whole life. He supported the Colonial Americans in their fight for proper treatment by the English overlords. He is probably best known for his quotation, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” He also said, “Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.”
Those quotations remind me of what James said in his letter “to the twelve tribes scattered abroad.” In Chapter 1:22-24, he says, “ . . be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” And in Chapter 2, verse 17, James continued, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” As if to say, “If you trust, but you don’t obey, there is no way you will satisfy the call of discipleship.”
But the best comment on this subject comes from our Lord Jesus Himself. He said, in Matthew 7:24-27: (my paraphrase) “If you hear My words and you do them, I’ll think you are like a wise man who built his house on a rock, and the rain and the flood came, and the wind blew, and beat on that house, and the house stood, because it was founded on a rock. But if you hear My words and you don’t do them, I will think you are like a foolish man . . .” Did you hear that? If you hear the truth and you don’t follow it, you are a fool!
So what shall we say about these things? Because I’m primarily concerned with making disciples, and teaching them to observe the things that Jesus has taught us, I would agree with Edmund, James and Jesus. We need to keep our eyes, and our hearts, on doing what Jesus says in Luke 9:23, “If you want to be My disciple; deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Me.” That means we need to surrender daily, and let Jesus live His eternal life in us. “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
By the way, it’s not about doing a list of activities, or following a set of rules, it’s about having a personal relationship with Jesus so that He, by His Spirit, lives His Life in you and me. By doing that, we will satisfy the requirements of Edmund, James and Jesus, all three.