The Great Differentiator



Philippians 4:9

Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.


It’s not enough to learn or receive or hear or see. It must be put into practice.

So let me ask you the hard question: What are you putting into practice? If you are anything like me, it’s easy to read something, think about it, ponder it, enjoy it, be challenged by it, agree with it for the most part, register an intention to do something about it, and then check e-mail, send a few text messages, get busy doing other things, and all of a sudden it’s already tomorrow and the process repeats itself. I know it’s like that for me as the writer, so I can only imagine how it must be as the reader.

Now let me ask you an even harder question: What two or three things are you actively putting into practice from our journey through Philippians so far? We have covered a lot of ground, and I know I’ve thrown a lot at you. It’s impossible to put into practice all that has been discussed. That’s the problem with the so-much-ness of it all. Because we can’t do everything, it’s hard to know what to do or to decide what matters most. We don’t intend to not do anything about what we are reading, but we are on a planet that is moving at 67,000 miles per hour, and that’s before we even get out of bed. It’s just easy to learn, receive, hear, and see stuff in God’s Word, which takes effort in itself. It’s a lot harder to sustain practice.

So because I love you, I’m going to remind you of the truth you already know. All of the learning and receiving and hearing and seeing  in the world will amount to less than nothing if we do not put it into practice. Hear Brother James on this point:

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. (James 1:22-25)

Let’s give Jimmy’s brother, our Lord Jesus Christ, the last word on the topic today.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Matt. 7:24-27)

Catch the difference between the house that withstood the storm and the one that crashed? One word: practice. It is the great differentiator.


Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who is the Word made flesh, the perfect embodiment of your ways and your will. He is the one who shows us how practice makes perfect, for he is himself the perfect practice of your Word. We want to be like Jesus. Grant us the simplicity of a long, slow, simple obedience in the same direction. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.


  1. What one thing from our time in Philippians so far are you trying to put into practice? (For me, it’s learning to rejoice in the face of hardship.)
  2. Do you ever have the mentality that because you can’t do everything, you can do nothing? How can this be combatted?
  3. It’s okay for our learning and receiving and hearing and seeing to outstrip our practice, as long as we are slowly adding to our practice. Remember, the turtle wins. What will you practice with intention and intensity over the next thirty days?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt


Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.


  1. Because Paul’s letter to the Church at Philippi was already one of my favorite texts, most of what you covered was confirmation of thoughts I’ve already had. The main thought that I want to put into practice, not only the next 30days but permanently, is to have the mind of Christ in all things, especially in my relationships with others. The other lessons, in my opinion, are foundational to achieving that goal. I will be reviewing these lessons from time to time as I endeavor to grow into that mindset. I believe these lessons take us to the heart of true discipleship.

  2. The thing that got me through dealing with the wreckage of my Dad’s life was the goal was to follow the command to “honor your father”. It was the hardest thing I ever did but I had my family and other good people around me who had the same goal. Even though we were angry at the mess he left that pushed us to our limits, we never succumbed to it–we showed up, gave it our all and then went home to heal. I have no regrets. It was my lesson in if you follow God’s command He will show up; I never once prayed for strength to deal with the situation; rather I was always struggling with the question “What do I need to do to honor my father?” And when we were done, that is what had been accomplished.