Today my Jonah lesson was “Making Good or Making Amends.” It talked about how we often don’t do what we know God is asking us to do, and then try to make up for it somehow. We try to justify our disobedience by doing “something else” for God instead. I think that the modern church does this a lot. I know I do. We know that God is gracious and merciful, and will forgive us if we mess up.
- “I don’t really need to apologize to that person. God’s already forgiven me.”
- “I know I shouldn’t get involved with that person, but I’m lonely. God will forgive me.”
- “I know abortion is wrong, but I can’t have a baby. God will forgive me.”
We can sometimes use the mercy of God as an excuse to continue living out of His will. But He won’t allow that for long. What stood out the most to me was a passage Priscilla quoted from Isaiah 1:13-16.
Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies – I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, they have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them. So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are covered with blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil.
To me, that statement says that God can’t stand it when people gather together and pretend to be righteous and holy, then head out and live like they want the rest of the week. I’ve spent time recently in the presence of pretenders, and it makes me physically ill to think about it. They are good at speaking “Christianese” and have a lot of people fooled, but the true fruit of their spirits can be seen when you spend a little more time with them. The ugliness and bitterness they try to hide spills out eventually, and it hits everyone around them. God knows what we are hiding. When we “play” at being righteous and holy, it disgusts Him. We can fake everyone else out, but we can’t fake out God.
I don’t want to be a burden to Him. I don’t want to grieve Him by my actions – or by my inaction.
And I definitely don’t want the way I treat others to be a stumbling block or reason someone else doesn’t come to know Him.