Imagine you’ve just cleaned your entire living room top to bottom. There isn’t a toy in sight, not one pet hair on the couch cushions, not even a stain on the rug. This is every wife and mother’s dream. Now, imagine you’ve bent down to discover that there is an unknown sticky substance all over the underside of your coffee table. Oh, no.
Could you imagine being a prophet in the times of the Old Testament? It is your responsibility to relay the words of God to His people and instruct them in righteous living. You have to be stern and sincere, effectively conveying the significance of being obedient to a group of people who have historically had a hard time doing just that. I’m sure it felt like an amplified version of telling your kid “don’t do that” for the twentieth time or watching your best friend endure heartbreak after heartbreak from toxic relationships.
We just witnessed an extremely significant event: the rebuilding of the wall. I can hardly estimate the emotions the Israelites felt as they watched it progress. Yet, somehow, this last chapter is full of rebukes. People have to be told not to set up shop in the temple, to take care of the Levites, to hold the Sabbath, and to remain pure in their relationships. They have to be made to be obedient. God’s people had experienced a profound restoration in their time, yet they continued to break their covenant with God.
“’Wasn’t it just this sort of thing that your ancestors did that caused our God to bring all this trouble upon us and our city?’”
Unfortunately, we aren’t much better in the present day. We like to feel the chills of the Spirit at conferences and get buzzed on sermons, but then return to our lazy, disobedient lifestyles. It would be easy to blame it on something or someone else.
“It’s the pastor’s fault for not preaching in a way I connect with.”
“The worship team’s song choice is the reason I just can’t hone into the service.”
“Instead of waiting for me to say hi, why don’t they give me a smile and ask about my day?”
One thing is for sure, we set the spiritual tone for our own lives. We can’t allow ourselves to think there can be a balance. There is no such thing as spiritual yin and yang. Light doesn’t balance out the darkness, it devours it. It snuffs it out. It shines so brightly that it scorches the darkness clear down to the ash.
We need to be like Nehemiah, looking at every area of our lives and choosing righteousness. We need to remember that being even just a little lazy is what leads us down the path of destruction. Don’t wait to feel the tingling of the Spirit to clear out sin.
You’ll find it’s much harder to stay connected to His presence when you’ve allowed yourself to cut corners. That’s when you press harder, when you seek Him fervently. That’s when you spend consistent time by His side. Then, righteousness will flow out of your time with Him. You’ll see the corners you have cut and you’ll seek reformation. God will act as your counterweight, not sharing space with your disobedience, but cancelling out the heaviness of your sin.
Imagine you’ve just cleaned your entire living room top to bottom, when you find an unknown sticky substance all over the underside of your coffee table. Just as you get down on all fours and start scrubbing, another set of hands go to town on the other end of the table.
When you choose to stay steadfast in every area of your life, the Helper works with you, providing much needed strength and encouragement along the way.
Featured image by Sophie Keen