This morning I spent a lot of time studying in the book of Jeremiah. I may or may not be working on another project centered around this book! It’s just neat to see how much God has used this amazing example to teach me what I needed to learn over the past five months. There is no emotion, conflict, or situation that I have not been able to find an answer for inside of this book of the Bible. The number one truth that I have found through my studies is…God wants us to be bold in our love for Him.
There are so many different verses throughout the entire Bible that tell us to be bold in our faith, but in the book of Jeremiah we see the story of a man who wanted to be anything but bold. I’m not sure what it is exactly (yet) that I connect with so strongly with Jeremiah. Maybe it was the fact that he was so bold in what he said to the wayward Israelite’s; or maybe it was his insecurities that often caused him to be fearful of saying what God told him to say; or maybe it was the way he just said what needed to be said and didn’t try to sugarcoat anything when he did speak. I can relate to all of those things pretty easily. I can also see how he struggled to be bold especially around people who did not share his same opinions.
The society we live in today is pretty similar to the one Jeremiah lived in. People had turned away from God so long that they honestly believed their halfhearted attempts at worshiping Him was sufficient. They truly believed that putting idols before Him was the right thing to do. They could not have been more wrong!
God called Jeremiah to speak boldly to those people. His one calling in life was to boldly proclaim the word of the Lord to people who did not want to listen…and worse did not care to hear what he had to say. He also died before he could see the fruit of his labors. How depressing would that be? We complain when we don’t have a high speed internet connection. We get frustrated when people don’t agree with what we post on social media. We pout when we don’t get positive reviews on a project or assignment.We ruin our testimonies because our actions do not reflect the words that come out of our mouths.
I can honestly say that I do not believe I have…or ever will have the patience that Jeremiah had in his day. Although being patient was not easy for him…I know without a doubt that he had tons of patience or he would never have been able to survive like he did. Even with all of his patience, he still got irritated and wanted real…honest…clear answers as to why he was being asked to speak to people who truly did not care…or attempt to change their terrible behavior.
Jeremiah boldly asked God the hard questions…and God answered him. I have found that God is answering my hard questions as well…and as a result I am willing to be more bold in several areas of my own life. I have learned that if I don’t ask God what I really want to know, He won’t just come out and tell me. God wants us to seek Him out no matter what we are facing. He wants us to look to Him for all of the answers we need…but we have to make the choice to ask Him. Even when the Israelites ignored God…He still loved them. Just like He loves all of us. God has the ability to make us choose Him…but he loves us to much to force us. The choice to follow Him is solely up to each one of us and no one…especially God himself….will force us to accept Him as Lord.
Thinking about this today made me think about the fact that no one can force any of us to do anything. We have to make the choice inside our own mind to do or not do everything on Earth. Are there times when we feel like we don’t have a choice…of course there is! However, in the end we always make the decision to do whatever it is that we do in life. We have influences and are all motivated differently, but the choice to actually act on something is up to each one of us in the end.
It’s funny to me that some adults think they have total control over children. It’s laughable really when you dig deep into God’s word and realize that He gave us free will in every area of our lives. So, why do some adults feel like they have the “right” to control a child? Here’s a newsflash….there is not one person on this Earth who has the right to control anyone else. No parent…no teacher…no boss…no leader…no preacher. No one.
Instead, these “adults” would do well to understand that they will get more out of the children or people that they are attempting to control if they give them a reason to want to try. It amazes me when I see grown adults who act worse than small children…especially when those adults are supposedly in charge of small children! It seems like at some point the adults would understand that punishing a child into his/her way of thinking just won’t work. Ever. What better example of this is there besides the children of Israel?
The only thing God wanted from His chosen people was for them to love Him…and Him alone. He gave them free will and allowed them to make all kinds of terrible mistakes. They worshiped wood and stone…instead of God. They completely forgot the Arc of the Covenant…they didn’t teach their children about it and actually lost it inside the synagogue at one point. They turned their backs on God numerous times…even though He had performed many miracles in front of their very eyes. During all of those times, God let them make their own choices. Each time they chose to push Him away, it hurt Him deeply. God is self-controlled though and He refused to give in to his anger on numerous occasions. Over and over again the Children of Israel deliberately hurt God and yet He still loved them.
Only after many years did God reach His limit and allow His anger to drive his behavior. When He punished His children…he warned them first. When His anger grew to a point where He wasn’t going to take their disobedience anymore…He delivered harsh punishments to all of the people…He didn’t spare the ‘good’ ones. He didn’t pick favorites. He saw the heart of every person he punished and it hurt Him to be so harsh in his discipline…but He had already given them warnings, instructions, and plans to follow and they still rebelled. Every person paid the same price regardless of their sins…because they were all sinners. The only difference is that some repented before the punishment and others did not repent at all. It is interesting to see the way God works and we could all use His example during this day and time for sure.
So, the next time you or someone you knows decides to fly off the handle at a child…or another adult…maybe you should suggest that He/She pick up their Bible and read the book of Jeremiah. There are a whole lot of “Christians” out there delving out punishments, destroying people’s confidence, and ruining the lives of kids who don’t have a fair shake at life to begin with…and it infuriates me to watch it happen. If God is good enough to give us all chance after chance after chance to get our acts together…shouldn’t we do the same for our fellow man?
I’m betting we absolutely need to reevaluate ourselves and truly look at how our actions are affecting those around us…especially if children are involved. Stop being mean, hateful, and vindictive. Try being kind…and understanding…and forgiving. It’s a choice we all have to make and we will all pay the consequences of our actions one day. I’m boldly calling out the mean people…and daring you to think that you can keep your house of cards standing through the storm that will surely hit before too long. Please decide that loving people is worth more than punishing them…that’s what God does…and that is what He expects us to do as well if we truly are His children. Repent and turn over a new leaf…it’s time to discover what real life and faithful living is all about, because the lie you have told yourself for so long is not going to help you in the end. Just look at the children of Israel…
Choose to boldly walk away from your comfort zone and be a positive impact on your fellow man…woman…or child. You never…ever….EVER…know what your actions could mean to someone else. Trust me…God used Jeremiah who never got to see the fruit of his labors before he died. God is using me regardless of my grief and pain. God wants to use you…right where you are in life at this very moment. Make the choice to ask God what He wants you to do today…and then boldly step out and do what He tells you to do!