Deuteronomy 12:8 “You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes;
I have been studying the life of Gideon: Our Weakness, His Strength by Priscilla Shirer from the book of Judges. It is a time in history characterized by “everyone doing whatever is right in one’s own eyes.” That is pretty scary! Yet, turn on the daily newscast and we see the current geo-political, socio-economic climate caused by this very attitude.
So, why this l-i-f-e l-o-n-g struggle? From life’s first to final breath we want to do it “my way.” Old “Blue Eyes” made a song popular and it is a favorite even to this day because it is our American mantra. I admit I love the song.
Really listen to the words, and do a bit of soul searching. How are you handling your life right now?
My Way, by Frank Sinatra
We applaud and encourage this in our culture. As a mom, I too have at times been guilty of encouraging this mentality and then wondered from where the conflict came. It is a battle of wills! My will, your will, against God’s will: What God has laid out plainly as BEST in His Word. If you feel you just got dropped into a crucible, you are not alone! The mortar and pestle is designed to crush and expose the aroma, the oils, and the flavor of what is inside. It is designed to bring out the best within the seed but it is not a pleasant experience.
There are many stories contained in the canon of Scripture of disobedience. Three stand out to me. Three individuals destined by God for greatness who CHOSE to do “what was right in their own eyes,” and life did not end well: Jonah, Samson, and Saul. A prophet, a judge, and a king.
Jonah ran from God, Samson defied God’s law, and Saul outright refused to obey a command of God because He did not see the rationale. Jonah was buried three days at sea in the belly of a fish, Samson lost his life in revenge, and Saul’s actions were still being felt centuries later (Esther’s story) by the entire nation of Israel.
God’s directions, we have established “don’t make no sense!” We have also established He is sovereign and “His ways are higher than our ways.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) In Deuteronomy 28, beginning with verse 15, God lays out the consequences for disobedience. They seem harsh, but the reality is we “reap what we sow,” (Galatians 6:7-9) and are all designed to draw us back to the Father. Just as a father disciplines a son out of love, so our Heavenly Father disciplines us so we might not perish. (Proverbs 3:12, Acts 17:11, & Hebrews 12:6) The Father also uses bad for good. (Romans 8:28)
Titus 1:16 tells us the cold, hard truth: “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.” As my sweet mamma use to tell me, “Your actions are speaking louder than your words.”
This could leave us all wondering, “Have I messed up so bad He cannot ever use me again?” The answer to this is a resounding NO! All we need do to be assured of our future usability is look at these same characters. God did use them to bring either salvation or judgment to others. We are not required to be perfect to be used. He only asks for our willingness (and in the case of Jonah it wasn’t even willingness with a good attitude!). God gave us a free will. We get to choose whom we will serve. It is part of our being made in the image of God. Joshua probably said it best: “Now therefore fear (stand in awe) the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:14-15
Just as we “wrestled” with our parents by wanting to do things our own way, we “wrestle” with Holy God. I did not win the battle of the wills with my parents! It was the training ground to teach me I will not win this battle of the wills with Father God! The wrestle cost Jonah three terrifying days of his life. It cost Samson his sight, imprisonment, and death. It cost Saul the kingdom, his son’s allegiance, and his sanity. Disobedience is NEVER worth the cost.
Count the costs. Weigh the consequences of disobedience against the blessings of obedience. Look past the here and now to eternity and its rewards. (Luke 6:23)
I Will Follow YOU, by Chris Tomlin
(leave this song ringing in your ears, not the other one!)
Father, Lord God of Heaven,
Forgive us when we do what is right in our own eyes and give us courage to turn from this attitude and follow You and You alone. May we not stand before You, a Holy and Righteous God, with the audacity to say, “I did it my way.” In Jesus Holy name we plead. AMEN
Treading til He comes,