Pilgrim's Warnings: Part Two

The second man in this three-part series in one of my favorites. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t mean “favorite” in the sense that I admire him or his behavior. I simply find his part in the story to be pointed and well said as we Christians consider our own hearts, minds, and lives on the Pilgrim’s journey. Said another way, this character challenges me, and that is always a good thing.  
Before reaching the town of Vanity in their journey, Christian and Faithful notice a man traveling the same route as them. They call him near and enter into a long discussion with him.  

His name is Talkative, and he provides us with a great caution. First, let me relay how the conversation plays out.

While walking, Faithful asks the ages-old road trip question: “What should we talk about” (my paraphrase)? Talkative tells the men that he approves of talking about things that are good and true. In fact, he says, it really bothers him when people waste their words on unprofitable topics. So far, so good.  

The trio sets into the topic of grace, the law of God, and the reception of faith. Talkative then lets the men know that he is willing to talk about anything pertaining to the Christian life. Faithful is especially impressed, and whispers to Christian how fortunate they are as to have a companion such as this man. Christian does not share the sentiment. As it turns out Christian knows Talkative from his days back in the City of Destruction, and he is able to see right through Talkative’s impressive words. Christan explains:
“This man is for any company and for any talk; as he talketh now with you, so will he talk when he is on the ale-bench; and the more drink he hath in his crown, the more of these things he hath in his mouth; religion hath no place in his heart, or house, or conversation; all he hath lieth in his tongue, and his religion is to make a noise therewith.”  
According to Christian, the man named Talkative was just that – talkative, and in his incessant talking, he sought to present himself as righteous. He trusted in his words and in his knowledge. He was a hearer and a repeater of the word, but not a doer of the word, as God commands his people to be through James.  
Assuming that whoever might read this post is a Christian, I should think that if you or I give a moment of thought to it, we could name and place people we have known who have been adopted the same error as Talkative; trusting in their words and in their knowledge, yet with no discernable fruit of the gospel in their lives. If we considered honestly, we would undoubtedly see ourselves taking up Talkative’s mantle from time to time.  I can recall times (and even short seasons) in my own life in which I repeated quite a bit of biblical truth to others; all the while living as one with no desire or motivation to manifest and express my convictions in the world.  
Do you see the disconnect? As one pastor has said, our theology ought to come out of our fingertips. What we know should always inform what we do. If we only give lip service to God and his excellent gospel, we are doing no good in the world; not to others and not to ourselves. Indeed, words without action to match them are a condemnation to the speaker.  
What is to be done? Consider the story. Christian urges Faithful to move beyond mere words with Talkative and to press into the true state of Talkative’s heart. Faithful does this, and Talkative inevitably becomes less talkative and more uncomfortable. He eventually rejects Faithful as “his judge”. Christian’s concluding advice to Faithful is this: “From such withdraw thyself.”
There is caution here for everyone involved. If you are in the position of Talkative, the charge is to listen to Faithful. Allow your own heart to be exposed, and come to terms with your lack of Christian zeal and your misplaced trust in your words and knowledge. In other words, repent and believe the gospel.

If you are in the position of Faithful, the charge is to listen to Christian. Once you have done all you can to help another see their error, for the sake of your own soul and integrity, withdraw thyself. As the Proverbs show us time and again, we are influenced by those whom we choose to surround ourselves.  
During our time on earth as pilgrims, may our convictions be seen, and not only heard.

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