There’s an App for That by Tony Cooke

There’s an App for That
Tony Cooke

App for ThatIf you’re the least bit tech savvy, you’ve no doubt heard the phrase, “There’s an app for that.” In January 2011, the American Dialect Society named “app” the word of the year for 2010. An app is a software program that you use online or on mobile devices. App is short for “application.” If you have a computer or a smart phone, you’ve got the basic tool, but “apps” enable you to carry out specific functions.

I have apps on my smart phone that allow me to check the weather, read various news articles, read the Bible, listen to music, do mathematical calculations, etc. There are also many apps I’ve downloaded, but never use. For you to benefit from an app, there are two simple steps: (1) you’ve got to download the app, and (2) you’ve got to use the app. You can have a great smart phone, but if you don’t utilize some apps, you’re limiting its helpfulness and potential.

Steve Olsen, a long-time friend and volunteer for our ministry, has an extensive background in software engineering. He told me, "The device is the hardware. But without the software apps, there’s no way to expose all that the engineers had in mind when they designed all the power and potential into the hardware."

How does this relate to our lives spiritually? It’s great for us to have right beliefs, but we experience tremendous limitations and restrictions when we do not have apps—when we do not make “application” of those beliefs in our lives! Application occurs in our lives when we act upon what we believe.

It’s worth noting that “app” is short for application, not aptitude. We may inherently have certain aptitudes—capacities for learning or performing. However, genuine proficiency and effectiveness comes through much training and practice. Scripture notes the connection between being skilled and regularly practicing our beliefs.

Hebrews 5:12 (ESV)
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food,  13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

These believers had been around a good while. Their lack of development was not due to a lack exposure to the word, but rather, their lack of consistent practice of the word. I enjoy tennis, but if I only watch tennis without regular practice, my game will not be sharp. I can watch top professionals all day long, and I can even imagine playing like them (that would be what the Bible calls a ‘vain imagination’), but if I don’t practice, my game will never improve.

I believe this is why James said, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). Self-deception is something that occurs when we know something (having heard it) but have not practiced it. Knowing something is not the same as being skilled in that area. Reiterating what Hebrews 5:14 says, proficiency comes from constant practice.

George Macdonald said, "A man’s real belief is that which he lives by. What a man believes is the thing he does, not the thing he thinks." Consider the following Scriptures that deal with the app in our lives—our practice

Philippians 4:9 (NLT)
9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.

1 Timothy 4:15 (ESV)
15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.

After listing a number of godly virtues, Peter said, “…if you practice these qualities you will never fall” (2 Peter 1:10, ESV).

The New Testament was not written only to establish right beliefs, but also to promote right behavior. This is revealed in the frequent use of the word “therefore” throughout the New Testament. Paul and others will often present doctrine—truths to be believed—and then follow-up with an app, an application of how to behave in the light of those truths.

Consider the abundance of Scriptures that draw a conclusion from previous verses and instruct us how to act:

Therefore… present your bodies a living sacrifice… to God… (Romans 12:1)
Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness… (Romans 13:12)
Therefore let us not judge one another anymore… (Romans 14:13)
Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace… (Romans 14:19)
Therefore receive one another… (Romans 15:7)
Therefore put away from yourselves the evil person… (1 Corinthians 5:13)
Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit… (1 Corinthians 6:20)
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry… (1 Corinthians 10:14)
Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate…” (2 Corinthians 6:17)
Therefore… let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness… (2 Corinthians 7:1)
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all… (Galatians 6:10)
Therefore… do not lose heart… (Ephesians 3:13)
Therefore… walk worthy of the calling with which you were called… (Ephesians 4:1)
Therefore, putting away lying… speak truth… (Ephesians 4:25)
Therefore be imitators of God… (Ephesians 5:1)
Therefore… work out your own salvation with fear and trembling… (Philippians 2:12)
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth… (Colossians 3:5)
Therefore comfort one another… (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
Therefore… stand fast… (2 Thessalonians 2:15)
Therefore do not be ashamed… (2 Timothy 1:8)
Therefore… be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus… (2 Timothy 2:1)
Therefore… endure hardship as a good soldier… (2 Timothy 2:3)
Therefore be diligent to enter that rest… (Hebrews 4:11)
Therefore come boldly to the throne of grace… (Hebrews 4:16)
Therefore do not cast away your confidence… (Hebrews 10:35)
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil… (James 4:7)
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God… (1 Peter 5:6)

When you see a “therefore,” it’s good to consider what it’s there for! The “therefore” is introducing us to an app—an application. It may summarize some of the previous thoughts, but it’s typically telling us how to apply those truths practically in our daily lives.

Some people seem to be concerned about telling believers what to do. After all, they reason, “we don’t want to get people into works.” I understand that we don’t want people focusing on the externals without realizing God’s love for them or who He’s made them to be through Christ, but real faith acts, and we shouldn’t be reluctant to recognize the lifestyle and the obedience that God has called us to embrace. That’s making application of what the Bible says!

The apps we make can and should be:

  1. Christ-centered,
  2. Word-based,
  3. Grace-focused,
  4. Faith-filled,
  5. Spirit-led,
  6. and Love-dominated.

Keep this in mind as you read Scripture: There’s an app for that! Be attentive to Scripture and sensitive to the Holy Spirit as to how you can apply the word of God in every area of your life!