Doing Too Much and Believing Too Little

By Rodger and Ginny Barnette on May 11, 2018

A few weeks ago, we finished Gospel Centered Life with our third group of Kenyan nurse anesthetist students. One of our favorite lessons is lesson #6, which focuses on Heart Idols. Here is a section from that lesson:

“Think for a moment about this question: “What one thing should I do to grow more as a Christian?” If someone asked you that question, how would you respond? Would you suggest some basic spiritual discipline, such as reading the Bible, praying, finding Christian friends, repenting of sin, or learning theology?

The crowds brought this exact query to Jesus in John 6. His answer may surprise you: Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent.” (John 6:28–29)

Notice: they are asking Jesus what they must do to live a life that pleases God. Jesus answers that the work of God is to believe. In other words, the Christian life is not about doing—it is about believing. Getting this right is crucial to sanctification. Most of us are naturally “doers.” We gladly embrace the next project, the next challenge, the next assignment. So our pursuit of Christian maturity produces a lot of busy effort, but little lasting change. Why is this so? Because we are doing too much and believing too little.”

Ginny and I regularly fall into this practice. We jump into a new project immediately upon completion of the previous one; or accept a new task even before we have completed all of the tasks still on our to-do-list.

Ephesians 2:10 tells us that good works have been prepared in advance for us.

So we are not saying that work is bad—but work must spring from relationship, from faith, from believing in the one He has sent.

This lesson on ‘Heart Idols” seeks to make us aware of the sin that is “under the sin.” All too often, we find ourselves working to achieve relevance, worth, or approval of others—when we already have all we need through Christ.

It is so very easy to focus on the surface sins and not address the deep-seated heart issues from which they spring—like our pride, need for approval, respect, control, and unbelief, to name but a few.

One of the weeks of the study, when we were talking about repentance, Ginny shared a story with the students about a confrontation she had with one of the members of the Kijabe Hospital administration.

For this lesson, she asked the students what they thought her heart idols were.

Two very brave students came up with “respect” and “control.” These students don’t know Ginny well, but they could see what was motivating her heart in the incident she described.

Please pray for us as we seek to recognize and repent of those deep heart issues, which often seem hidden from us but are evident to others.

We want to know the freedom that believing brings, and we want these students to also know that freedom.

Rodger and Ginny Barnette

About Rodger and Ginny Barnette

Rodger and Ginny are based in Kijabe, Kenya. Rodger is practicing and teaching as an Anesthesiologist and an Intensivist at the AIC Kijabe Hospital. Ginny is the Serge team leader at Kijabe and works in the hospital’s Infection Control Department.