Competence and Practice

A good friend is helping us add a room to our basement. OK, he’s actually doing it and we’re helping him. He’s very experienced in the trades and can overcome challenges that would cause me to hire a contractor in minutes. The room is being built with metal framing instead of wood. Just the way he knows how to trim/cut the pieces to fit made no sense to me until I saw him do it. I was totally confused.

My friend’s competence didn’t start out as competence. He had to learn and begin to apply the knowledge shown to him. He had to be motivated and possess the work ethic to better himself, mastering one task after another, until you see the mature professional he is today. As I am sure you’ve guessed, there’s a scriptural parallel to this:

“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matt 7:22-24

Practice makes perfect, as the saying goes. Most of us were brought up on lawlessness, or at least following a false law. We were taught that it didn’t matter what we ate, that we needed to go to church on Sunday, that Christmas and Easter were the highest days of the year, and a host of other doctrines of men. In fact, we practiced lawlessness. It was a way of life. Our time was marked off by pagan holidays and the pleasures of the world. At some point, though, we met someone who lived differently or we read something that didn’t compute. At some point, we came into contact with people who had actually acted on the words of scripture. They were different and that difference was alluring.

Many of the things we were were learning were very confusing. Three days and three nights, what on earth does that mean? What does that have to do with Easter and Good Friday? What do you mean the day actually starts at sundown? What do you mean about resting on the Sabbath day and abstaining from work and commerce, what good would that do? Somehow, though, we felt compelled to work through the confusion. God is not the author of confusion, as Paul wrote in 1 Cor 14:33, albeit in a different context.

Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting. Who can speak of the mighty deeds of the LORD, Or can show forth all His praise? How blessed are those who keep justice, Who practice righteousness at all times! Psalm 106: 1-3

Now that I have spent some time practicing the righteousness of the Law, it comes naturally, just like watching my friend construct a wall. He has done it so much and for so long, that it is second nature. He is experienced at it because he practices it! This is how one gets experienced following the ways of God, by practicing them! And I also have an idea how to put up a metal framed interior wall!