Therefore thus says the LORD: If you return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me. If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them. -- Jeremiah 15:19
Monday, July 6, 2015
Speaking the Truth in Love
I can understand how Jeremiah felt. He was living in the midst of wretched perversion and an atmosphere of spiritual apathy when it was not outright apostasy. Judgment and destruction hung over the heads of his nation and his people. He was ridiculed, condemned and threatened for his warnings and his calls for a return to righteous standards.
Can we blame him for feeling a little down? Woe is me, my mother, that you bore me, a man of strife and contention to the whole land! I have not lent, nor have I borrowed, yet all of them curse me (Jeremiah 15:10). We live in a time when doing good and living right are cursed. When I would read these passages just a few years ago, it never occurred to me that something like this could be the state of affairs in my nation in my lifetime. Hollywood has been making Christians the villains for many years, but I suppose I have always assumed that the First Amendment would protect us from direct government hostility. I’m not so sure anymore.
Like many of us today, Jeremiah began to wonder if perhaps God was playing him: Will you be to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail? (v.18) You, Lord, are telling me to say all this, to stand up for holiness and truth, yet nothing is happening. I’m beginning to wonder if You are going to back me up or if maybe You are just going to make a fool out of me.
This is why God reprimanded Jeremiah. The prophet was uttering what was “worthless”. God is merciful. He is patient and long-suffering. He would rather we repent. For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live (Ezekiel 18:32). I personally am most thankful for that. God’s love and mercy are the only reasons I’m not burning in hell right now – a fate I enthusiastically earned and richly deserved.
Nevertheless, we live in a time of weeping and sorrow. Reality cannot be changed by changing the meaning of a few words. If I am driving my truck toward the edge of the Grand Canyon at a hundred miles an hour, my refusal to listen to “negativity” is not going to alter what will happen at the bottom. It is not time to stop telling the truth; it is time to speak it relentlessly, regardless of opposition. Comforting lies will spare no one in the end.
The caveats are few. Our motivation must be love. We should always, for our part, endeavor to be speaking from a place of peace. We seek to heal, enlighten, and liberate, not control, dominate or manipulate. God will speak to the heart.