So today we continue our saga through Pilgrim’s Progress. It’s kind of hard to peg my progress through this book because the copy I have comes without chapters (and a warm thank-you goes out to Jerry Falwell’s publishing company, The Old-Time Gospel Hour). So, boys and girls, let this be a lesson to you that judging a book by its hard, gilded cover is not a wise idea!
Anyway, Christian is walking along the narrow road with his new companion, Faithful, a native of his own hometown, when they happen upon a man by the name of Talkative. Upon speaking to Talkative, Faithful asks him to join them on their journey, discoursing of good things along the way. Christian, however, recognizes Talkative for who he is: a man who loves to learn the Word and talk shop about it, but never actually part with his sinful ways and actually follow Christ.
This is something I struggle with, and I think a lot of other people who have found themselves caught in the snare of learning have struggled with this as well. Learning is a wonderful tool, and no greater learning exists than learning the ways of the Lord, but learning is not the end, but only the beginning and, perhaps, a catalyst to action. Paul puts it best in 1 Corinthans 13:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
I’m not even 100 pages into this book yet, and I have seen myself as many of the negative characters Christian has encountered (as well as, in some cases, the positive ones, and Christian himself), but thus far, I don’t think I’ve related better to any of them more than Talkative. I feel like a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal pretty often actually, when I find myself engaged in “frivolous talk.” Anything we learn must be accompanied with speech thereof and action upon, and all those things must come birthed out of the love of God within us. As Christians, we are judged by our fruits; it is not enough to simply believe in Jesus and think it’s all going to be OK. We must be ripe for the harvest. It’s not good enough to believe and talk, no matter how much we want to believe that.
Besides, who wants to be a clanging cymbal anyway?