Practice makes perfect!? Have you heard this phrase before? Maybe you play the piano, or a sport, and a teacher or coach has said this to you. But do you realize that this statement is only a half truth?
Let me explain. When I was in high school, I was a successful baseball player and pitcher. I set school records, and earned a college scholarship. I had spent years practicing and honing my skills, but none of this prepared me for college. On the first day of fall practice, my coach told me that I had good “stuff”, but that my mechanics were terrible, and that there was no way I could make it in college baseball without changing. In effect he was telling me that everything I had learned was wrong, and they way I pitched was incorrect. Well, I was ticked, and decided I was going to prove a few things to him. I got rocked! He was right, I couldn’t get college hitters out. At the end of fall practice, he listed me as the 11th pitcher on that team. I couldn’t believe it.
But something happened over the winter. That coach changed the way I practiced. He forced me to do all these little drills that broke down every movement of my pitching motion. I had to unlearn all the mechanical flaws in my pitching motion that I had “practiced” for years. It drove me nuts. One day I would throw without stepping, then he would make me stand like a crane on one leg for a minute at a time. I kept thinking this was useless, but when it all came together my pitches got faster, my curve ball curved more, and my control got much better.
The moral of the story, practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. This truth applies to baseball, the piano… and the Christian life. In 1 John 3:4-10 John is telling us that there are two ways of practicing. We can practice sin, which prepares us to live for the devil. Or we can practice righteousness, which prepares us to live for God. Righteousness means living a life empowered by God to please Him and do what is right in His eyes. Do you want God to use you? This comes through practicing righteousness.
A couple thoughts about practice. First of all, practice in intentional. To practice the piano, a person has to stop everything else, and take time to sit at the piano and do it. Second, practice is repetitious. The very idea of practice is to do something over and over to learn to do it correctly. Reread the first ten verses of 1 John 3, and underline all the times the word practice is used. What are you practicing for?
A true believer in Jesus Christ will want to honor and please Him. One of the evidences of faith will be demonstrated by what you practice.