Isaiah 5:20 (NRSV).
Ah, you who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Over the years, I have learned to try to analyze my thoughts and actions, to discover why I think the way I do or act the way I choose. I say “try” because I’m not always successful at doing it. I am greatly influenced by the society around me, a society which isn’t trustworthy and which, if I were wise, I would ignore when it comes to making choices.
I look back over my life and see many places where I should have made different decisions, where I could have made better choices. I see so many times when I have been (and still am) self-indulgent rather than obedient to God’s will. Just this morning, I read a snippet written by a dear Christian sister. It said, “Will I cooperate [with God’s plan] despite emotional pain?” Will I take the hard road?
I think it’s very difficult to look at Isaiah 5:20 and realize that it is about the society in which I live. But it is! We are at the point where, at almost every turn, evil is called good and good is called evil; darkness is embraced and the light of God’s word is rejected; the bitterness of sin, death, and hell are desired and the sweetness of God’s love is thrown down. And this isn’t helped by the fact that many Christians are so confused about what it means to be a Christian! Pastors aren’t preaching hard messages anymore, either being content to preach wishy-washy words to keep the pews full or knowing that their congregations are so spiritually immature that they can only accept milk. And we as Christians haven’t demanded that our pastors step up to the plate; we have become content to listen to a 30 minute sermon, complete with one or two scriptures projected on a screen, and then released to go home for another week to whatever it is that satisfies the lusts of our flesh.
For the time is coming when people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 NRSV).
Are we willing to walk the hard road for the cause of Christ? Are we willing to listen to the teachings that will compel us to grow to more maturity in the Lord? To become a Christian whose moral center is founded upon scripture means two things. First, we have to learn to rely solely upon the Holy Spirit. His will, His plans, His way need to be all that we think about or long for. Second, we need to be immersed in the Word of God. What we think, what we dream about, what we speak must reflect that our thoughts are overwhelmed by God’s word. Do you know that everything recorded in the New Testament as Jesus’ words are from the Old Testament? He was and is truly the Word of God and He wants to be that in us. He knows what is right and wrong, what is sin and what is righteousness. He longs to put that knowledge within us!
My child, if you accept my words and treasure up my commandments within you, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. . . . For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk blamelessly. (Proverbs 2:1, 5-7 NRSV)
There is so much of life that we embrace because it is fun or cute or even “innocent” when really it is the beginning step to destruction. Only God holds the Truth and only God holds the secret to living a life of morality. Even when His words don’t make sense to us, we can trust them — and trust Him — to know what is best!