Friday, September 21, 2007

Stubborn streak

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Zechariah 7, 8, 9, 10

Zechariah 7:9-12 (NIV)

9 “This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.’ 11 But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. 12 They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the Lord Almighty had sent by His Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the Lord Almighty was very angry.

Good morning!

Do you have a stubborn streak? I used to get really angry with my children when, during a family discussion, I could see the self-righteous indignation taking hold of their physical bodies. They would literally stiffen up, pursing their lips with eyes glazed over and the tiny hairs on the back of their necks standing straight up. When I saw this look float across their faces, I knew this was the outward manifestation of a hardened and selfish heart inside. They were not hearing me, no matter how hard I tried to break through. Where do kids learn how to do this stuff? Sometimes I wonder if stubborn streaks are simply an inheritance, passed down from their Mama, affectionately known as the Queen of Flint!

Every now and then, I’ve seen my grandchildren “assume the position” while their parents are giving them verbal instructions. When parents speak, they expect their children to listen and obey them. How often do our kids simply turn us off, like the television set making meaningless noise from another room without an audience to watch and listen? It’s no wonder that God became very angry with His kids when they refuse to listen and obey His Word.

Zechariah spoke heartfelt instruction from God to His people. To administer true justice through love, one must show mercy and compassion. We must end the ongoing oppression of the widows and the fatherless, to stop judging them for the things they simply have no control over in life. He urged His children to love the poorest of the poor and not alienate them even further from society. He begged us not to think evil thoughts about each other. Did they listen and obey His Word? Do we listen and obey His instruction today?

God may be asking you to step out of your comfort zone and befriend someone who is struggling to survive. Maybe He is asking you to spend some serious time with a neighbor who has lost their spouse and spends long days cloistered and alone. It may not be pleasant for you to make time to sit and hold the hand of one who is suffering from separation, anger, and grief. If God called you to go and simply be present with them; to listen and care, would you do it willingly and without hesitation? It is much easier to be too busy and make excuses that cover up our feelings of inadequacy in sharing in another human being’s pain. Are we simply allowing our jam-packed days to harden our hearts to someone who truly needs a friend? I don’t know about you, but this is an area in my life that needs a serious attitude adjustment.

This morning I’m thinking about the times I have refused to listen and obey the Lord’s instruction. Like my children, I’ve stood motionless and unbending at the foot of the cross, refusing to remove the flint from my face. It is my sin that sent the Lord Jesus Christ to Calvary. He came back to break my hard and callous heart. Day by day, Jesus teaches me a little more about His perfect love, and my imperfect attempts to imitate Him. If God is tugging at your heart to reach out in love to someone today and it makes you just a little too uncomfortable, ask yourself why. Then, let the Lord break your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. He will do it if you are willing to let go of your stubborn streak today.

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO

Pray for: the desire to turn around, unstop your ears, and allow the Lord of life to melt your heart of stone and soften that flint face. God is calling us to love each other through the perfect love of Christ. Someone out there needs you right now. Are you ready to listen and obey?


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