Have You Been Listening?

Jeremiah the prophet said to all the people in Judah and Jerusalem, “For the past twenty-three years—from the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah son of Amon, king of Judah, until now—the Lord has been giving me his messages. I have faithfully passed them on to you, but you have not listened.

“Again and again the Lord has sent you his servants, the prophets, but you have not listened or even paid attention. Each time the message was this: ‘Turn from the evil road you are traveling and from the evil things you are doing. (Jeremiah 25:2-4)

 

All throughout Jeremiah there is evidence that the case was stacked heavily against the Judeans:

  • They rejected God’s Word.
  • Truth had vanished from among them and was no longer on their lips.
  • They worshipped idols of other nations.
  • They sacrificed children.
  • They exploited widows and orphans.
  • They listened to false prophets who tickled their ears.
  • They accommodated, assimilated, and tolerated the cultures of other nations.
  • They disobeyed God and refused to be taught.

God’s people were heading down the road to nowhere good. The Judeans were hardheaded and hardhearted. They absolutely did not care that they were not living up to God’s standards for them.

I wonder if Jeremiah knew how hard it would be to be God’s prophet. For years and years, he repeatedly told them to repent and turn away from the rebellious lives they had been leading, but they would not listen.

Yet, Jeremiah did not relent or waiver in his commitment to God and His people. He kept calling them to turn back to God. He was faithful, consistently pointing the people to God’s Word—despite their stubbornness.

But when Jeremiah had finished his message, saying everything the Lord had told him to say, the priests and prophets and all the people at the Temple mobbed him. “Kill him!” they shouted. “What right do you have to prophesy in the Lord’s …” (Jeremiah 26:8-9)

Did you catch that? The Judeans did not want to hear anything Jeremiah was saying. In response to his pleadings, they threatened to kill him (Jeremiah 11:18-19). They threw him into prison (Jeremiah 37:15); they threw him into a well (Jeremiah 38:6) leaving him to die. They questioned his authority to say the things he was saying to them.

If I were in Jeremiah’s position, I might have given up on the Judeans. Quite likely, I would have been frustrated, to put it mildly.

Before I get too high and mighty, though, I have to admit that I am not—we, the Church, are not—all that different from the Judeans.

  • We wallow in our sin.
  • We don’t always want correction, if ever.
  • We don’t like to think about the consequences of our sins.
  • We, too, question the right of a friend, a loved one, or a brother/sister in Christ to call us out and get involved in our lives when we are sinning.

Right or wrong, no one wants his/her sins to be pointed out by anyone. No one wants to be called on the carpet.

But, on the flip side…

It can be uncomfortable sometimes to confront a friend or loved one about something in his/her life that flies in the face of God. We feel like we don’t have the right to speak, knowing that we aren’t perfect.

What will the person say? Will I be accused of being judgmental?

Do you see the problem? We don’t want to be confronted about sin in our lives. We also want to just mind our own business rather than confront sin in someone else’s life. We want it both ways.

As I have been reading through Jeremiah, I have been convicted by his faithfulness—to God through his obedience and to the Judeans through his persistence. I have been convicted by his love for the Judeans, as evidenced by his desire to pray for them and call them back to God.

Ultimately, Jeremiah’s love for the Judeans was a reflection of God’s love for His wayward people. He sent Jeremiah to them. He gave Jeremiah the command to point out sin and call for repentance. He issued the warning through the prophet about the consequences of continual disobedience.

All of this reminds me of my own life. As I reflect on different seasons in my life, I have had a few Jeremiahs—persons who have nudged me, called me out, held me accountable, and challenged me to repent when I have fallen into sin. When I have wandered off down paths that did not match who I am in Christ, those prophets have been there, calling me back to walk the straight and narrow road.

I’ll admit that, at the moment of correction, I didn’t feel particularly loved…by those people or by God. However, I am grateful to God that He allowed those people to come alongside me and lovingly, if not always gently, point me back to His Word. If I am being completely honest, those times when I have been encouraged to take a look at my life have never felt good. In my pride, I have taken offense. I didn’t want to hear the truth.

But, I thank the Lord for the Holy Spirit who convicted me, using those who were obedient to God’s call to be prophets in my life. Through their love and true words, He led me back to the standard of the Word, causing me to search my heart and confess. Though I didn’t really want to hear words of correction, I thank God for instructing those people to remind me about what is most important: my relationship with Christ and His work in my life.

In this season of my life, my hubby is the person the Lord uses most to hold me accountable. I am grateful for his obedience to the Lord and that he loves me enough to point me back to the Cross.

What about you?

Has God sent someone into your life—a friend, a brother or sister in Christ—who is holding you accountable? Is the Lord using someone to nudge you in an area in your life where you are walking in sin? Is God using someone in your life to call you to repentance?

Have you received the correction of the Lord? Or, have you gotten bent out of shape? Is your response one of humility and gratitude or fleshly, like the Judeans?

Maybe, instead, the Lord has been nudging you to love a friend by pointing out a sin weakness. Are you willing to speak the truth to that person, regardless of the response?

Friend, let us not give up on one another. Let us pray for each other. In love, let us point each other back to God’s Word. Let us remain open to accountability. Let us allow the Holy Spirit to guide our responses toward grace and humility rather than offense.

One thought on “Have You Been Listening?

  1. Karen, I enjoyed reading your article. In 2010, I wrote a very short message to my Emmaus Community titled, “Are We Listening?” I smiled when I saw your title.
    Keep up this good work. God bless you.
    Aunty Paula

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