In this “March Madness” season, we have plenty of opportunities to notice the skills of great basketball players. If you’ve ever been coached in basketball, you probably know that one of the most important aspects of a good shooting technique is the “follow-through.” Good basketball coaches teach their players to keep moving their shooting hand forward even after their fingers release the ball. This continued forward motion of the hand is called the “follow-through.” Players who don’t follow through with their shots are unlikely to score many points. It may seem ironic, but one of the best strategies for shooting a good basketball shot is to think about what to do after the shot…the follow-through.
In the same way, one good strategy for living a life that pleases God is to think about what you should do after you hear a sermon, after you read your Bible, or after you pray. James 1:22 exhorts, “Be doers of the word, and not hearers only.” We all know it’s possible to hear a good sermon, say “Amen,” and then walk away and not act any differently. James points out that such behavior is like looking in a mirror, noticing something in our appearance that needs to be changed, but then walking away without doing anything about it. Such practice defeats the whole purpose of looking into the mirror in the first place!
It’s easy for Christians to do the same thing after looking into the Word of God. We may notice a principle in the Bible that causes us to believe for greater things. We may feel a desire to draw closer to God or to serve other people. However, how often do we actually follow through with those desires? Just as success in basketball is closely tied to a player’s ability to follow through with his or her shot, success in our walk with God is closely tied to how well we follow through with God’s Word.
Jesus taught this principle in His parable of the sower. He told about a farmer who threw seed on four different types of soil: the wayside, rocky soil, thorny soil, and fertile soil. The seed represented the Word of God and the four different types of soil represented the different ways people can respond to the Word. While the seed that fell on different soil types yielded different amounts of fruit, the seed that fell in the fertile soil produced the most fruit of all. Jesus explained that the fertile soil represented people who “having heard the word…keep it and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15). He was saying that those are the people who follow through!
I like the way another translation shares Luke 8:15, declaring that the people represented by the fertile soil “produce what is good despite what life may bring” (GWT). Let’s decide we’re going to be those people! Despite what life may bring, let’s follow through with God’s Word so that we will see the victory He’s promised!