Behold, I have made your face as hard as their faces, and your forehead as hard as their foreheads. Like emery harder than flint have I made your forehead. Fear them not, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. – Ezekiel 3:8-9
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Hard Head, Soft Heart
I know this person – actually, there are several people I know that are like this – this one who thinks I am easily deceived. Ben was talking the other about giving and when it is appropriate to give money to someone who might misuse it. This person comes and gives me a story, usually pretty elaborate, fairly desperate. It always starts out, “I hate to even ask you.” One of these days I may reply, “Not as much as I hate to hear you say that.”
The thing is, I know I am being lied to. One of the things I prayed for when I first became a Christian was the gift of discernment. I don’t know if I got that, but I certainly have the gifts of suspicion, skepticism, and cynicism. None of us probably tell the whole truth all the time. I don’t, but it’s not with the intent to deceive. It’s more like changing the names to protect the innocent – and sometimes to protect the guilty. There are details that people really don’t need to know. It’s good to be laconic.
Anyway, Ezekiel in general, and these early chapters in particular have always meant a lot me. Ezekiel and Thomas, and, to a lesser extent Gideon, are the men in the Bible that I identify with most closely. Not that I was ever called like them, but they did their jobs. They did what they had to do. If I had a motto it would probably be something like “Stick to it.” To do that, you have to be a little hard-headed. There is a form of stubbornness that is positive, a refusal to quit even when it’s hard and when it hurts and it’s not going your way.
There is another side to all this, though, for the same God who made Ezekiel’s head harder than flint said, Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you (Psalms 32:9). Later on, in Ezekiel 11:19-20, the Lord spoke of a change He wanted to make in His people: And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
There is nothing wrong with being analytical and skeptical in terms of the intellect, but, in the end, the intellect must be informed and guided by the heart. And the heart must be open and sensitive to the Spirit, to hear God and respond. This has become something of an expansion of the comment I made on OC yesterday about love and logos. We can be intellectually rigorous with regard to doctrine so long as it serves love and is motivated by love.
What my deceptive friend does not understand is that I do not help a person because they can come up with a good story. Usually the better the story, the less apt I am to buy it. My head is too hard. It’s my heart that responds to the plea the Spirit makes between the lies.