For many years I’ve maintained a file folder labeled “Speaking.” It has become thick with articles, quotations, and illustrations that might be useful. Recently I went through it to discard things that are out of date. I found it difficult to throw away many of the items, not because I haven’t used them in a talk but because I haven’t put them into practice. I closed the folder thinking, “These aren’t words to talk about; these are words to live by.”

After 40 years in the desert, Moses addressed the people poised to enter the Promised Land: “Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I teach you to observe, that you may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers is giving you” (Deut. 4:1). Moses’ repeated theme (vv.1,2,5,6,9) is that God’s commandments are to be kept. He said it well, “Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments . . . that you should act according to them” (v.5).

It is so easy to talk about doing more than we actually do and to speak about truth we’re not living by. We can become bloated with words, yet starved for reality, forgetting that all of God’s commands flow from His heart of love for us.