Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Hasty Heart

“Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.” (Ecclesiastes 5: 2)

An old preacher once said, “Never make your Christian life so hard you can’t live it.” And you can do that, you know, by making promises and setting goals that even the angels could not achieve! In the first six verses of this chapter, Solomon is talking about vows made before God that have not been adequately thought through, but the principle stands true for any important decision. It's interesting, I think, that the place where these hurried decisions are more apt to be made, is in “the house of God” (v.1). Here, in an atmosphere of praise and adoration to God, it is easy to only see ourselves “[sitting] together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph.2:6), forgetting we are called upon to live our lives in this earthly place (Eph.6:3).

I realize Solomon often lapses into carnal cynicism in this book; however, he does point out some of the realities of life that are more practical than philosophical (e.g., 8:11). Another obvious but sometimes forgotten, observation is what he says in verse two: “…God is in heaven, and thou upon earth.” He's there, and we're here. Our affection must be where He is (Col.3:2), but our attention must be where we are, since this is where the display of our affection for him will have to be played out.

When we lived in Northern Ireland, although we were still citizens of the United States, we lived, for the most part, as the Irish did. We did not frequent the pubs or become embroiled in their internal affairs, of course; but we did eat their food and visit their Gospel Halls. To have alienated ourselves from them would have defeated our purpose, which was to make disciples for Jesus Christ. We were separate from them only when it came to sin or matters that had no bearing on our own lives as Americans. As believers, you and I are citizens of a heavenly Kingdom, but we live in what amounts to, for all practical purposes, “foreign territory.” We can walk in the Spirit (Gal.5:25), but we’ll have to do it in the body of this flesh.

Because of this reality, Solomon warns us not to make decisions on Sunday that cannot stand the light of Monday. “Be not rash with thy mouth,” he says. Hasty words come from a hasty heart. Decisions of the heart call for deliberation. It is easy to forget that mere feelings of love do not (and should not) always lead to commitment. The path of God’s choosing for us, and the conduct of our Christian lives, requires sober consideration and not just while the choir is plaintively singing, “All to Jesus I Surrender.” The decisions we make that are truly Spirit-directed will be as workable at home and on the job as they are at church. Christianity is not a Sunday-go-to-meetin’ religion; it's a 24/7 life. If it isn’t, we might have more show than sincerity; and we might be more religious than real.

Jesus said, "My yoke is easy..." If yours is too heavy, you didn't get it from Him.

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