Jump Start # 2685
Jeremiah 6:16 “Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good ways is, and walk in it; and you shall find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.”
Some things and some people are just hard to figure out. Here in our passage, God is pleading with the wayward nation of Judah to get back to following Him. Idolatry has torn their hearts away from God. The “no other gods before Me,” of the Ten Commandments had been long forgotten and tossed out the window for these people. They were bent on doing what they wanted to do.
And, it’s like that today. We can show, preach, plead with some to do what is right and they will just go the other direction. We care more for their souls than they do themselves. And, here in our passage the Lord shows the upside to following Him. It is the good way. You will find rest. Now, the opposite is what they were inviting into their lives by not following the Lord. Instead of good, it would be bad. Instead of rest, they would have turmoil. God is telling them what they ought to do. Their response was, “we will not walk in it.” Their minds were made up. Concrete had been poured and dried. They were not interested.
One has to wonder if God ever thought about revoking our free will. The blessing of free will is choice. God doesn’t make us, nor force us. He wants us to follow Him because we want to. But the nation was acting like a three-year-old. Walk this way, is what God said. They said, “Nope. We aren’t going to do that.” God didn’t send the nation to their room, although that might have been a good idea. No, in time, God allowed their choices to take them as far from God as they could get. Because of His promises, which He always keeps, He allowed the nation to be in captivity for more than a generation. Longer than the wilderness journey, Judah was in Babylonian captivity. Many were killed by the Babylonian invasion. Others would die in Babylon. A few were allowed to return.
Stubborn, full of pride, not caring about the eternal, Judah was Hell-bent on doing what they wanted. And, they did. And, what they got was not rest, but captivity. What they got was not good ways, but Babylonian ways.
And, here is what this looks like today:
- The preacher has a lesson in mind for a couple of specific people. They are making wrong choices and they are headed away from the Lord. The preacher preaches his heart out. The ones that he had in mind never paid attention. They came in with a mind made up that they were going to leave just as they came. Unchanged. Unmoved. Indifferent.
- A parent does all that he can to be a great example and role model for his son. But his son’s heart is already in the far country. He has lied to his parents. He has snuck out several times. He continues to hang out with those who will sink him lower and lower into wrong choices. The dad is beside himself. He’s tried talking, lecturing, counseling, mentoring—everything. This wayward heart doesn’t want to listen nor turn.
- A wife does all that she knows how to keep the marriage above water. Her husband is no longer interested in the marriage, her or staying. He’s found someone else. His choices are wrecking the family. She pleads, but he doesn’t listen. She begs, but his heart is gone. He doesn’t want to talk to anyone about this. He is not interested in counseling. He doesn’t want to save the marriage. He wants out.
Wrong choices. Bad influences. Walking away from the Lord. There are times when we wish free will wasn’t so free and so easy. The heartache that the righteous go through and the tears that are shed could fill a river. Why does God allow this? Why doesn’t God change something? We wonder. We plead. We cry.
Free-will comes with a price. The blessing of choice also involves choosing the wrong fruit. So, what can we do when those that we love choose to do wrong?
First, loading guilt upon yourself doesn’t help matters. In some cases, maybe the guilt is deserved. Maybe we dropped the ball and didn’t do as we should. There has been those who were treated roughly and the scars have remained fresh for decades. All you can do is apologize, learn and try to do better. But our passage reminds us that some walked away from the Lord. God wasn’t to blame. God didn’t fail. God didn’t mess up. Even with the best, some choose to go the other way.
Second, we must never give up. As long as life is in the body, we continue to pray, set examples and try to get those we love back to the Lord. What doesn’t work in one method, causes us to try a different method. But we never, ever give up. Sometimes our efforts are casting pearls before the swine, but because of our love for these people, we will cast.
Third, freewill is enjoyed by those who respect it and use it wisely. I like having the freedom of choosing what I am going to preach about and what classes I am going to teach. I wouldn’t like that to be decided for me. I like the freedom to live where I want. I like the choice of eating what I like. Freewill can have wonderful benefits. However, freewill comes with consequences. Every choice leads somewhere. Every decision has ramifications. We can be as strong spiritually as we want to be. We can serve as closely as we want to. And, those right choices bring joy, love and assurance.
Finally, one day freewill will end. It ends in eternity. There will be no temptation in eternity. There will be no fear of failure, messing up or being kicked out of Heaven. That won’t happen. Satan won’t be there. There will be no bad influences. There will be no sin. We will be where we want to be. We will be doing what we want to do. We will enjoy the presence of God forever.
Won’t it be wonderful there.