“To listen to one word and go out and obey it is better than having the most exalted ‘religious experience,’ for it puts us in touch with God Himself—it is a willed response.” Elisabeth Elliot

Hear, Do, Know: The Christian’s Clear Assignment

My young friend’s question was as deeply earnest as it was misguided:
“I know I need to read and pray every day, but isn’t it just hypocritical to go through the motions on days when I’m not feelin’ it?”

It’s not hard to trace this line of reasoning to its source. In Western thought, a command to love is nearly an oxymoron–or even an outrage. Love is a word that conjures visions of irresistible urges and involuntary heart palpitations. A command to love suggests hypocrisy, coercion, or legalism.

In the context of Deuteronomy 6, the command to hear and to love may land on 21st-century ears with dissonance, but God’s words through his servant Moses set the agenda for an entire nation:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”  (Deuteronomy 6:4, 5)

Furthermore, Shema, the Hebrew word for the verb “to hear,” carries with it an implied obedience, a hearing that leads seamlessly into action.

As a New Covenant woman, the law “written on my heart” (Jeremiah 31:33 NKJV) fuels a connection between hearing and doing, but I am an imperfect practitioner of God’s righteous requirements.

No nonsense wisdom from author and missionary Elisabeth Elliot lays out “the Christian’s assignment” in this order:
1. Hear
2. Do
3. Know

To listen to one word and go out and obey it is better than having the most exalted ‘religious experience,’ for it puts us in touch with God Himself—it is a willed response.” (A Lamp for My Feet, p. 40)

This “willed response” is my pledge of allegiance that says, “I trust you, Lord. This is what you have laid out as the path to knowing you, and I will meet you on this path, even when my feelings don’t support my actions.”

It’s always a gift to team up and share truth alongside Living By Design Ministries, and I’m hoping you’ll join me over there for more on this tension between whole hearted obedience and a comprehensive love for God and others. Click here to continue reading!

Photo by Carolyn V on Unsplash

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35 thoughts on “Hear, Do, Know: The Christian’s Clear Assignment”

  1. Michele,
    What if Jesus didn’t obey God? What a pickle we’d all be in?! I wholeheartedly agree that we need to choose to obey, even if we’re not “feeling it.” Feelings certainly can lie, but God’s word of truth never lies. Too often, I allow myself to be caught up in the apathy that my feelings dictate. There are few times, however, when I open His word and set my mind on the task of obeying, that God doesn’t change my thinking. His word never returns void. This I remember when I think that I’m just going through the motions. Great post!
    Bev xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Michele. So often, we’re prone to close our Bibles when we’re not feeling particularly spiritual or receptive or whatever. But that’s the time we need it most. In those moments I like to look up verses where someone (usually a psalmist) says “quicken me” (in the KJV) or “turn me.”


    1. A willed response! Amen to that, because the heart can be deceitful and desperately wicked. God help us! Thanks for sharing. Many blessings to you!


  3. Your article reminded me of the book I am currently reading, Michele. It’s a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a 20th-century German theologian who was eventually executed by the Nazis. His obedience to Christ was remarkable, so much more perfect than mine. I sometimes feel as though I need to “fake it until I make it”. The surprising thing to me is that, by faking it, I do eventually get to a place of grace and submission to God’s word.


  4. Crazy how Hear was meant to mean action implied… when we live in such a busy world that you HEAR so much but I dont think anyone LISTENS… I feel like todays world is opposite with what HEARING means. Sad.


  5. We have to choose to have discipline and not a “simple choice”. Wonderful post and read today. Thank you for linking up.


  6. Hear, Do, and Know. I think we often mix it up. I think I have to know before I do, yet Scripture shows us that as we obey God, we understand and know Him better. We change. Headed over to read the rest!


  7. This is such a great article. As I read the question about skipping quiet time with God when we are not feeling it, I realized I am that person too. Life tends to overtake our quiet time if we let it and instead of leaning into God we pull away because we forget how much He cares. Elisabeth Elliot is wise in challenging us to “Hear, Do, Know.” Those are great words to live by.


  8. I’m. not religious Michele, but I believe one alwasy knows what is right and there’s a reason for everything we do even if it doesn’t make sense at the time. Thanks for joining in with #pocolo and hope to see you back later this week


  9. Sometimes we have to go through the motions, doing what is best for us even when we have low energy or focus. Thanks for linking up with #dreamteam


  10. Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn


  11. We have to think of duty and the greater good even if we don’t feel the emotional drive to complete what we know we must. Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

    Liked by 1 person

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